SLPP-SLFP talks: progress depends on MR-MS meeting

Future negotiations for an electoral alliance between the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party will depend on on a deal President Maithripala Sirisena and the Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa could agree on.

At the end of two hours of discussions held at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in Colombo today 27 Aug, both sides said that they had agreed to arrange a meeting of the party leaders.

The attendees at the meeting were higher profile party men than before, lending the talks more gravitas than before.

For the first time one of the Rajapaksa brothers, Basil, was present from the SLPP side and Dayasiri Jayasekara, the SLFP General Secretary and newly elected Treasurer Lasantha Alagiyawanna joined the group from the SLFP.

None of these three had been present at the previous six rounds of discussions.

Jayasekara told reporters that the SLFP would be seeking a meeting with SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa as well to discuss the implementation of their proposed program.

Basil’s comments to reporters outside the meeting also addressed some of the previously obvious sticking points.

He said that the identity of the SLFP, an older more established political party would be retained within the alliance.

The SLFPers are uncomfortable about having to play kid brother to the upstart SLPP. However, the reality is that the newly formed party thrashed the SLFP soundly at the Local Government elections in March last year.

Sources close to Sirisena say that further progress in the talks will depend on how his own future will be guaranteed.  

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They said that the President has three things on his mind. If Sajith Premadasa becomes the UNP candidate, it is likely he would support the UNP. If not the SLFP would support Gotabaya as long as the party signed a pact with the SLPP candidate.  The third option would be to present a joint manifesto to the country and have the SLPP incorporate the SLFP elements into it.

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