COLOMBO:Several MPs belonging to the Rajapaksa faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) crossed over to the Sirisena faction, as two rival party Central Committees met on Sunday to claim ownership of the party.
According to a count at Sirisena's residence, eight MPs had crossed on Sunday in addition to the 27 who had defected earlier.Among those who crossed over were other office holders like North Western Province Chief Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara.
Sirisena faction' s Central Committee appointed Maithripala Sirisena as the President of the SLFP and Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chandrika Kumaratunga as the Patrons of the party. Duminda Dissanayake was made General Secretary.
According to the SLFP constitution, if a party member becomes the President of Sri Lanka, he or she automatically becomes the President of the party.And party members who are past Presidents of Sri Lanka automatically become Patrons of the party.That is why Rajapaksa figures as a Patron along with Kumaratunga, faction spokesman Faizer Mustapha explained.
The Sirisena faction announced the that the "majority" of the 55 members of the SLFP Central Committee had attended the meeting.Asked to be precise Mustapha said that he did not have the attendance register wirh him.
Meanwhile, at a parallel Central Committee meeting held by the Rajapaksa faction at the SLFP headquarters, General Secretary Anura Priyadarshana Yapa declared that 42 of the 55 members attended and made Mahinda Rajapaksa the President of the party.
The Sirisena faction rejected this saying that this is against the party constitution.According to the constitution, if a partyman becomes President of Sri Lanka he automatically becomes party President also.
But the Rajapaksa faction does not recognize Sirisena as an SLFP member and as the SLFP candidate in the Presidential election.Sirisena was sacked when he became the Joint Opposition Candidate in the election.
However, the Sirisena faction does not accept this contention.Its argument is that Sirisena declared his Presidential candidature as an SLFP person and as its General Secrerary.He had not been sacked from the party even at the time he released his manifesto.
Faizer Mustapha argued that the sacking of Sirisena from the General Secretaryship of the party was not valid in law.