Reformists tell Sirikotha inquiry panel: Ranil, cronies must go

Former Galle Dist. MP to launch ‘Mahinda-Ranil partnership’ tomorrow

By Shamindra Ferdinando

UNP reformists yesterday appeared before a three-member committee inquiring into Decenber 19 incidents at Sirikotha following the re-election of Ranil Wickremesinghe, to reiterate their demand to oust Wickremesinghe from the leadership.

They also demanded that all those wanting to retain Wickremesinghe, too, should be chased out of the party. Speaking to The Island on behalf of the reformists after the conclusion of Sunday’s inquiry, Lal Perera, one of those accused of going on the rampage at Sirikoha, emphasized that all 18 UNPers arrested by the police at the behest of the leadership on false charges, appeared before the three-member committee.

They told the committee that the so-called secret vote hadn’t really been secret due to ballot papers issued to Working Committee members eligible to vote at the Dec. 19 poll being numbered by the party. They also stressed the importance of identifying those responsible for bringing in a group of outsiders to Sirikotha on the day before the poll to suppress dissent.  

The committee is headed by attorney-at-law Srinath Perera. Wickremesinghe constituted the committee after vowing to punish all those responsible for Dec. 19 incidents regardless of their standing in the party.

Perera said that they responded to a recent advertisement published by Sirikotha inviting those having information pertaining to the incident to appear before the committee. Wickremesinghe’s camp would never have thought we would appear before a committee widely believed to be loyal to the incumbent leader. Now they have an opportunity to prove their critics wrong, the spokesperson said.

Srinath Perera’s committee couldn’t be unaware of the urgent need to throw out Wickremesinghe and his cronies, whose failure to launch a cohesive campaign targeting the corrupt Rajapaksa regime was one of the major reasons for the deterioration of the party, he said.

The Reformists said that they wanted the Srinath Perera’s committee to release its complete observations and recommendations. They dismissed threats to remove Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa and parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekera as being nothing but a joke.

They alleged that Wickremesinghe was dancing to the tune of President Rajapaksa, whose hand could be clearly seen.

According to Lal Perera the Reformists would go ahead with their campaign regardless of attempts by Wickremesinghe to silence those pushing for his ouster.

Former Galle District UNP MP Lakshman Ananda Lanarolle, who once nursed Baddegama electorate will launch a book titled ‘Mahinda-Ranil Hawula’ ( Mahinda-Ranil partnership) at the National Library Services Board tomorrow (Jan.17) evening in support the Reformists’ campaign.

Sources told The Island that Lanarolle, who had been at the forefront of the struggle against Wickremesinghe would explain how Wickremesinghe had sacrificed the party to protect his position with the support of President Rajapaksa.

Former Gampaha District MP Reginald Perera and Southern Provincial Councillor, Maithree Gunaratne are scheduled to address the gathering. Among those expected to attend the book launch are one-time Assistant Leader, Rukman Senanayake and former Vice Chairman, Imitiaz Bakeer Marker.

Sources said that their ‘oust Ranil’ campaign was on track in spite of Wickremesinghe securing the first-ever poll on Dec. 19.

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