Sajith’s manifesto: JO sees treachery in problematic wording

Joint Opposition MP Mahinda Samarasinghe claimed today that presidential hopeful Sajith Premadasa has not used the term ‘unitary state’ in his election manifesto.

Instead of the Sinhala word ඒකීය (unitary), Premadasa’s manifesto uses the word ඒකීයත්වය (unity), said Samarasinghe.

“There is a big difference between those two words. Under international law, the term ‘unitary state’ has a specific legal meaning,” he said, noting that Sri Lanka’s constitution is emphatic about the country’s unitary character.

Former northern province Chief Minister C. V. Vigneshwaran had expressed his intention to analyse Premadasa’s manifesto in all three languages, the MP added, to understand his views on the matter before extending his support to him in the upcoming presidential election.

The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) parliamentarian further said this allegedly suspect wording could be the reason the Illankei Tamil Arusa Kachchi (ITAK) of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) “suddenly” announced its support to the New Democratic Front (NDF) candidate.

As evidence for this claim, Samarasinghe pointed to a remark made by TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiran yesterday that Premadasa, if elected, will create the democratic space needed to implement the TNA’s agenda.

However, Sumanthiran said that ITAK leaders had perused the manifestos of both Premadasa and rival candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa before coming to a decision, following a day-long discussion about each candidate’s policies and background. The Jaffna District MP said his party would reveal the reason for backing Premadasa once ITAK leader R. Sampanthan has talked to the other parties in the TNA.

Meanwhile, the Central Committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) will meet tomorrow to discuss disciplinary action against local government and provincial council members and party organisers who have directly or indirectly gone against the party’s decision to back candidate Rajapaksa, said Samarasinghe.

The self-styled Organisation to Protect the SLFP, led by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, he said, has sent out letters to all SLFP members, inviting them to attend a special convention tomorrow.

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