Civil society groups differ

Yuthukama campaign backs push for early polls
Call for snap general election


By Shamindra Ferdinando

In support of efforts to secure an early general election in the wake of Feb. 10 local government polls, civil society organisation Yuthukama will launch a campaign today (Feb. 26) with a meeting at the Public Library at 3.30 pm.

Yuthukama convenor Gevindu Kumaratunga told The Island that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration was making a brazen bid to continue with its 2015 mandate meant to divide the country on ethnic lines in terms of Geneva Resolution 30/1. Kumaratunga said that against the backdrop of heavy drubbing received by yahapalana partners, the UNP and the SLFP, Sirisena and Wickremesinghe couldn’t go ahead with their project by effecting cabinet changes.

Kumaratunga asked how the Sirisena-Wickrem-esinghe government could repair the humiliating LG polls defeat by reshuffling the jumbo cabinet. The activist called the cabinet reshuffle an attempt to deceive and divert attention of the discerning public.

The next parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in two and half years and presidential polls in one year and eight months. Nine provincial council polls are scheduled to be held beginning Sept. this year.

Ven. Medagama Dhammananda Thera of Siyam Sect of Asgiriya Chapter will chair today’s meeting. Writer Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, President’s Counsel Manohara de Silva, Dr. Charitha Herath and Gevindu Kumaratunga will address the gathering.

The project gets underway amidst another campaign undertaken by civil society grouping Purawesi Balaya et al to strengthen the government. Purawesi Balaya co convenor Saman Ratnapriya told The Island that they strongly opposed early polls. There couldn’t be any justification in those reactionary elements demanding general elections on the basis of Feb. 10 polls outcome. "We have requested both President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe to continue and fulfil their much touted promises."

Kumaratunga said the Feb. 10 LG polls result underscored the need for reappraisal of public sentiments at a general election. Now that yahapalana proponents had repeatedly claimed that in spite of the SLPP securing the majority of local bodies, UNP-SLFP combine polled more votes, the latter shouldn’t hesitate to test the public opinion, Kumaratunga said.

Responding to a query, Kumaratunga insisted that those who had overwhelmingly voted for SLPP wanted war winning twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa back in power. The vast majority realized that they committed grave unpardonable mistake by changing nationalistic government at a crucial moment.

Yuthukama leader Kumaratunga said that since independence Local Government polls had been always comfortably won by the political party in power though the electorate responded differently at the recently concluded polls considered a referendum on the performance of the three-year old administration.

Comparing the performances of the UNP, Maithripala Sirisena’s SLFP and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) at 2015 August parliamentary polls and Feb. 10 polls, Kumaratunga pointed out that Wickremesinghe lost 1,473,417 (28.9 per cent), Sirisena 3,244,709 (68.5 per cent) and R. Sampanthan 176,288 (34.2).

Kumaratunga recalled how the UNP-JVP-TNA combine brought Sirisena into power in 2015 after failing to help elect Gen. Sarath Fonseka president at the previous presidential election.

Former President Rajapaksa, former SLFP National Organizer Basil Rajapaksa and former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa called for fresh parliamentary polls to end instability caused by UNP-SLFP defeat at local government polls.

SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday told The Island that in the wake of Feb. 10 defeat the ruling coalition had lost its mandate, therefore the government couldn’t disregard the need for fresh mandate as soon as possible. How could they expect to complete the five year term after losing countrywide local government polls? Prof. Peiris asked. Especially, the constitutional making process couldn’t continue sans people’s mandate, the former External Affairs Minister said, admitting that the government’s reluctance to face the electorate was understandable.

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