SLFP Splits : 21MPs Supports President Maithri. Others with Mahinda

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The Sri Lanka Freedom Party faced a major split in it’s parliamentary group today as a faction that includes 21 MPs decided to extend their support to newly-appointed President Maithripala Sirisena.  The group claimed that President Sirisena automatically becomes the leader of the party according to a provision in the SLFP constitution. Former President Rajapaksa brought in an amendment in 2006 that said that if a party member becomes the head of state, that person is to also become the leader of the party.  President Rajapaksa did this to oust then-leader Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, whom he feared will prove to be a bottleneck.  Ironically, the same amendment is now being used against chairman Rajapaksa by a group of senior SLFPers, possibly with the backing of Former President Kumaratunga.  During a press conference convened at the Colombo residence of President Sirisena, the SLFP group claimed legitimacy to their faction saying that they hold a majority of SLFP central committee members and therefore represented the ‘real SLFP’. However, the rival group backing Rajapaksa claims that they have the majority of members.

The Maithri faction included MPs Sarath Amunugama, Athauda Seneviratne, Reginald Cooray, T.B. Ekanayake, Wijith Wijayamuni Soysa, S.B. Navinna, Jagath Pushpakumara and Piyasena Gamage.

North Western Province Chief Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara has also decided to support President Sirisena. Jayasekara, the once vociferous critique of the Rajapaksa regime crossed over to the UPFA as it’s CM candidate for NWP in  July 2013, winning by a landslide in the September 2013  Provincial Council elections.  He has now decided to switch allegiances again, barely two years into his first crossover.

Meanwhile Matara MP Sanath Jayasuriya and SLFP vice President Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan (alias Karuna Amman) has also decided to extend their support to President Sirisena according to reports.  Already several members of the UNP have expressed their displeasure over Karuna’s support, because of his unpopularity, his associations with the LTTE and war crimes allegations. 

The new government under Ranil Wickramasinghe will need at least 30 MPs from the former governing coalition to to control a majority in parliament assuming the support of the JVP and TNA.  So far JVP and the TNA has said they will not join the government but will support them in implementing the 100 day plan.  The defeated UPFA coalition also pledged their support to implement the 100 day plan proposed under the Maithripala Sirisena election manifesto. Their sincerity however is questionable.

The majority-SLFP group backing former President Rajapaksa also met at the Party headquarters today and reaffirmed their commitment to Rajapaksa as the party leader.  Holding a press conference in between their meeting, they rubbished claims by the new Maithripala faction asserting that the constitution states that the automatic leadership provision applies only when the member was nominated by the party.  Further, the majority group which included UPFA bigwigs such as Nimal Siripala Silva, Susil Premjayanth and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said that President Sirisena’s membership was revoked right after he crossed over to be the opposition common candidate.  The matter is may only be settled courts.

 Update ( 1/12/2015) :  More SLFP seniors that includes Felix Perera, Lalith Dissanayake, Neomal Perrera, Dayasritha Thisera, Thilanga Sumathipala and A.R.M Abdul Cader  has met president Sirisena to extend their unconditional support.

 

 

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