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UNP in disarray as Ranil lacks courage to face MR- Dayasiri

North Western Province Chief Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera yesterday ridiculed the UNP-led joint opposition for contemplating twice-president as well as former SLFP leader, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga as an alternative to UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

CM Jayasekera highlighted the dilemma of UNPers in having to choose between the former and present SLFP leaders, in case she contested the forthcoming presidential poll.

The former MP was addressing the media at the SLFP headquarters. CM Jayasekera asserted that Kumaratunga as well as one-time UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya wouldn’t have been mentioned as possible contenders if Wickremesinghe had accepted the challenge.

Recalling the circumstances under which Wickremesinghe had not contested the last presidential poll in January 2010, CM Jayasekera said that

those wanting to oust the incumbent President were in disarray. Recollecting his role in the UNP at the time of last presidential election, CM Jayasekera alleged that Wickremesinghe had acted as if he wanted to keep Gen. Fonseka imprisoned.

A smiling Jayasekera explained that the ongoing tussle involving Wickremesinghe, Jayasuriya and Sajith Premadasa had caused irreparable damage to the UNP. He challenged Wickremesinghe to invite Premadasa to contest the presidential election if he didn’t want to face President Rajapaksa.

Asked by The Island whether the SLFP-led coalition was concerned by UPFA MP Ven. Athureliye Rathana (JHU) of National Council for a clean tomorrow, vowing to campaign against President Rajapaksa at the presidential election as well as the Socialist Alliance (SA) comprising the CP, LSSP and Democratic Left Party (DLP) opposing a snap poll, CM Jayasekera asserted that the JHU still remained with the coalition. The CM expressed confidence that the coalition had the wherewithal to overcome whatever the obstacles to ensure President Rajapaksa’s victory.

In spite of some differences within the CP and LSSP over President Rajapaksa seeking re-election, they would support the UPFA candidate, CM Jayasekera said.

Asked whether President Rajapaksa’s campaign could be impeded by nationalist forces such as the JVP and JHU working against him at the forthcoming poll, CM Jayasekera said that no one could challenge the SLFP leader stature as Sri Lanka’s national leader. Whatever the interested parties claimed in a bid cause confusion, nationalist elements remained with the President, he said.

Commenting on speculation that SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena, too, was being mentioned as a possible candidate, CM Jayasekera said that the Opposition mentioned various names. The Opposition’s action reflected its weakness, he said, asking why Wickremesinghe couldn’t take on President Rajapaksa.

The CM said that if anyone within government ranks moved against the President now, it would meant that they were collaborating with anti-Sri Lanka elements.

CM Jayasekera said that Tamil National Alliance (TNA) would try to exploit the situation by throwing its weight behind the Opposition candidate whoever it could be. The TNA would seek an agreement with the Opposition to explore the possibility of having the army withdrawn from the Northern province, thereby creating conditions necessary for the LTTE’s revival.

Explaining measures taken by the government since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009 to alleviate the grievances of Tamil speaking people, CM Jayasekera said that the government couldn’t jeopardise Northern Province by appeasing the TNA.

After having rehabilitated and released thousands of LTTE cadres, fewer than 100 hardcore personnel remained in custody, the CM said. Perhaps the TNA was seeking to secure their release as well as win other concessions at the expense of national security, he alleged.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

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