COLOMBO: Sri Lankan political parties ranged against former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday formally launched the United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) to carry forward the "January 8 Revolution" which was meant to restore and strengthen clean public life, democracy and ethnic reconciliation.
It was the January 8, 2015 Sri Lankan Presidential election, in which the Joint Opposition Candidate Maithripala Sirisena beat sitting President Mahinda Rajapaksa, which ushered in democracy and a climate for ethnic reconciliation.
But the "revolution" is now threatened by the re-emergence of Rajapaksa as a force in the United Peoples' Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and its main constituent, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), due to Sirisena's inability to stem Rajapaksa's influence in these outfits.
Post-election, Sirisena had taken up the leadership of the UPFA and SLFP from Rajapaksa but has been unable to control these outfits.This severely affected the implementation of his revolutionary Presidential agenda.
Parties which joined the UNFGG will fight the August 17 Lankan parliamentary elections as UNFGG so as to defeat the Rajapaksa-led United Peoples'Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
The line up for the parliamentary elections is the same as the line up for the January 8 Presidential election, and the issues are also the same.
" Sirisena won the first round in this battle and we are now fighting the second round," UNFGG chief and Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Express.
Asked if President Sirisena is with the UNFGG, Wickremesinghe said: " As the President, he is above all this," thereby meaning that he is non-partisan and neutral.
However, Sirisena's close advisor and cabinet spokesman, Rajitha Senaratne, said:" President Sirisena is OK with this. There is no problem."
Dr.Jayampathy Wickramaratne of the Lanka Sama Samaj Party (LSSP) said: " We have the President's blessings."
But Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader, Rauff Hakeem, was not sure. He hoped that Sirisena will see the writing on the wall and extend support to the bid to carry the January 8 Revolution forward.
Among the parties which signed the UNFGG MoU on Sunday were, United National Party (UNP); Sri Lanka Freedom Party (Sirisena faction);Jathika Hela Urumaya; Pavithiru Hetak (PH); Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC);Democratic Peoples' Front (DPF) and Lanka Sama Samaja Party (Wickremeratne). A few other parties have also pledged support.
UNFGG and UNP leader Wickremesinghe made it clear that the UNFGG does not mean the obliteration of the identities of its member parties. But it will be registered as a political party after the elections.
Speakers at the MoU signing ceremony pledged to rid the country of family rule, authoritarianism, corruption and communalism, all associated with the 2005-2014 Rajapaksa regime.