Ban on SF rally: Ranil, Sajith see eye to eye

Ranil, Sajith take rare common stand; Tissa lambastes Karu


by Shamindra Ferdinando

The UNP Reformists, too, have been sharply divided over today’s launch of a movement calling for abolition of the executive presidency under the joint leadership of UNP MP Karu Jayasuriya and General Sarath Fonseka.

UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, MP, said that he wouldn’t participate at the Hyde Park meeting, though being invited by the organizers. The Hambantota District MP was responding to a query by The Island.

Premadasa, too, supported the position taken by the decision making Working Committee of the UNP last Friday (12) to boycott the Hyde Park meeting. However, former UNP Deputy Leader, Karu Jayasuriya, in spite of the Working Committee diktat continued to canvass for the meeting.

Premadasa attended Friday’s meeting at Sirikotha. He refrained from supporting Gen. Fonseka’s endeavor.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, MP, lashed out at Jayasuriya in an e-mail sent in response to his plea to reconsider the UNP’s decision to boycott the meeting. Jayasuriya wrote to Wickremesinghe urging him to join the movement spearheaded by the United Bhikku Front. Well informed sources told The Island that the e-mail was sent at the behest of the UNP Leader. Attanayake accused Jayasuriya of trying to divide the party again, while reminding him how he betrayed the UNP by throwing his weight behind President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government.

Deputy General Secretary of the UNP, Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena, MP, yesterday said that the decision taken by the Working Committee was final. The Gampaha District MP said that the WC decision was unanimous. Jayawardena said that anyone violating the WC directive should be prepared to face the consequences.

The UNP also rejected a joint appeal made by the United Bhikku Front on behalf of the organizers of today’s meeting to allow members to join the protest. Ven. Girambe Ananda, Ven Meetiyagoda Gunaratne, Ven Bopitiye Dhammissara, Ven Kalpotha Dhammajothi, Ven Ulapone Sumangala and Ven Wattegama Jinarathana appealed to UNP General Secretary to reconsider WC decision. The monks alleged that the WC decision was based on the wrong assumption that General Fonseka was launching a new political movement. Instead it was to pressure the government to abolish the executive presidency.

Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) MP Suresh Premachandran yesterday told The Island that it wouldn’t join the protest rally called by newly formed movement headed by Gen. Sarath Fonseka to press for the abolition of the executive presidency.

Asked whether the ITAK had at least discussed the possibility of joining today’s rally at Hyde Park, Premachandran said that Gen. Fonseka’s outfit never invited them.

ITAK backed Gen. Fonseka’s presidential bid in Jan. 2010.

JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath yesterday told The Island that General Fonseka, about a month ago, declared in Kurunegala that a new political movement would be launched on Oct 18 in Colombo. "As far as we are concerned, the issue of the JVP joining a political initiative never came up," the Gampaha District MP said. The three-member JVP parliamentary group comprising Vijitha Herath, Anura Kumara Dissanayake (National List) and Sunil Handunetti wouldn’t join the meeting, the party said. The JVP contested the last parliamentary poll in April 2010 on the DNA ticket. The DNA won five seats and received two National List slots.

Galle District MP Ajith Kumara, who contested on the DNA ticket as a JVPer but broke ranks subsequently to join the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP), too, wouldn’t participate, a spokesman for the party told The Island yesterday. The FSP, which is yet to be registered as a political party said that it was not involved in Gen. Fonseka’s initiative.

DNA General Secretary Tiran Alles, MP, told The Island that he wouldn’t be attending. He politely declined to discuss his decision. The National List MP negotiated on behalf of General Fonseka to pave the way for his release from Welikada.

DNA MP Arjuna Ranatunga is abroad. Jayantha Ketagoda, who replaced Gen. Fonseka in Parliament when the former Army Chief lost his parliamentary seat consequent to a court order would participate at the meeting, political sources said.

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