COLOMBO:To prevent former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa from coming back to power through the August 17 parliamentary elections, anti-Rajapaksa forces have formed a common front with the tacit consent and blessings of Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
The United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) led by the United National Party (UNP) will be inaugurated at Temple Trees, the office of the UNP leader and Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Sunday. The UNFGG has the blessings of President Sirisena, according to Saman Athaudahetti of the Lankan Prime Minister’s office.
Athaudahetti told Express that Sirisena’s followers in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA), met the President late on Friday and told him about their plans to join a UNP-led front to oppose Rajapaksa who had been given an UPFA ticket to fight the election against Sirisena’s wishes. When Sirisena confessed to his followers that he was isolated in the party, his followers said they are quitting to join other anti-Rajapaksa groups. Sirisena then said that they were free to go, and added that he was with them. “They have his blessings,” Athaudahetti said.
Sirisena is expected to make a statement after the nominations close on July 13, in which he is expected to ask voters to choose non-corrupt and non-authoritarian candidates as per the political parties’ pledge taken on March 12. Though it will be a “non-partisan” appeal from a “neutral” President, it will, in effect, be a signal to the people to prevent a Rajapaksa comeback.
Sirisena’s chief lieutenant and cabinet spokesman, Rajitha Senaratne, said he will contest as a candidate of the UNFGG. He also said the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), will be part of the UNFGG. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) are already part of UNFGG. Rishad Bathiutheen’s All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) is likely to join the grouping. The Tamil National Alliance is expected to give the UNFGG support from outside.