UNP goes it alone to save SF

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Having failed to secure the support of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) and the JVP, the main opposition party, UNP has decided to go ahead with its campaign alone to pressure the government to release the imprisoned defeated presidential election candidate, General Sarath Fonseka.

In a brief interview with The Island, Deputy General Secretary of the party, parliamentarian Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena emphasised the UNP’s resolve to continue its struggle both here and abroad for Gen. Fonseka. The Gampaha District MP said that a two-pronged strategy was needed to ratchet up pressure on the government to give in.

"Recently, on behalf of the UNP, I sought the intervention of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to secure Gen. Fonseka’s release," MP Jayawardena said.

General Fonseka’s wife, Anoma, accompanied by Jayawardena, recently made representations to Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. In a letter addressed to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Jayawardena urged the Holy Father to seek clarification from Cardinal Ranjith and Apostolic Nuncio in Sri Lanka, most Rev Joseph Spiteri.

Jayewardena also brought to the Pope’s attention that the UNP had taken up the issue with the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva.

The MP alleged that Mrs. Fonseka had been prevented from joining Tuesday’s launch of UNP’s ‘save SF’ campaign in spite her being invited. "On behalf of the UNP, I invited her personally," he said.

The UNP believes that as the wife of Gen. Fonseka, she should be at the forefront of the campaign. It is unfortunate that those, who claimed to represent the interests of Gen. Fonseka, both in and outside parliament, were opposed to Mrs. Fonseka joining our protest," Jayawardena said.

MPJayawardena said that the DNA and the JVP shouldn’t be reluctant to accept the UNP’s leadership as it was the single largest Opposition party. Asked whether the UNP would object to other Opposition parties organizing protest campaigns against the UPFA, Jayawardena said the UNP would never undermine action aimed at weakening the government.

Gen. Fonseka’s party could engage in a campaign on its own, though it shouldn’t have avoided Tuesday’s protest, thereby causing a rift among those opposed to the dictatorial Rajapaksa regime, he said.

Dr. Jayawardena said that the People’s Movement to Free Gen. Sarath Fonseka had reiterated its support for the UNP-led campaign. The UNPer appreciated a statement attributed to Kumara Alagiyawanna of the movement calling on all Sri Lankans to join the struggle leaving aside all their political differences.

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