Fight together, campaign separately says Ranil

UNP-led Opposition alliance formed

by Zacki Jabbar

An eleven-member UNP-led joint Opposition alliance, which was formalised in Colombo yesterday, said that their main objectives included ousting the Rajapaksa government and restoring the rule of law.

The grouping includes the Nava Sama Samaja Party, Maubima Janatha Party, Tamil National Alliance, Muslim National Party, Democratic People’s Front, United Socialist Alliance Ruhunu Janatha Party, Eksath Janatha Peramuna and Nidahase Wedikawa.

The Nava Sihala Urumaya, which is part of the alliance was conspicuous by its absence. When its leader Sarath Manamendara was asked about his absence, he replied: "We are still part of the Opposition Front, but there a few issues that need to be sorted out, which obviously requires some time. A public statement will be made on the 20th of this month."

Addressing the members of the alliance, at the New Town Hall, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said that their agitation was unique since they would fight together while campaigning separately.

Admitting that there were ideological differences between the constituent parties, he said that it could be bridged since the task at hand superseded all other considerations.

The UNP’s new ‘Radical Programme’ had drawn various political parties to it and this could be the launching pad for a countrywide agitation against the rising crime wave, rampant corruption at the highest levels, disregard for judicial rulings, political interference in the police and judiciary and continued harassment of the media, Wickremesinghe said.

"We need to get on the streets, if our campaign is to gain momentum," he said adding that people’s power, as history had proved, cannot be quelled even by the mightiest of dictators.

Leader of the newly formed Maubima Janatha Party, Hemakumara Nanayakkara, who quit the government late last year over policy differences, said that their alliance had drawn a cross section of members including workers, farmers and the clergy.

The country was being taken down a very dangerous road and the trend had to be reversed, if future generations were to live in peace, dignity and without the lurking fear that has gripped society at large he observed.

The meeting was also addressed by M. A. Sumanthiran, Aruna Zoysa, Sudarshana Gunawardana, Azath Salley and Sirimasri Hapuarachchi.

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