Sri Lanka’s Sirisena widens rift in Rajapaksa camp
ECONOMYNEXT, Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena suggesting seven alternate names as potential prime ministerial candiadates has caused further rifts within the opposition United People’s Freedom Alliance.
The differences came to the fore at a press conference Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalists called today at the SLFP headquarters at Darley Road where only three of the seven men showed up.
Rajapaksa loyalists wanted to show case the seven men – Nimal Siripala de Silva, John Seneviratne, Chamal Rajapaksa, Athadua Seneviratne, A. H. M. Fowzie, Susil Premajayantha and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.
However, only John Seneviratne, Athauda Seneviratne and Susil Premajayantha turned up.
John Seneviratne said he was speaking on behalf of all seven and declared that neither of them wanted the PM job and that it should go to Mahinda Rajapaksa should their party win.
Even before John Seneviratne could finish his sentence, Athauda Seneviratne withdrew from the presser and beat a hasty retreat, clearly uncomfortable with John speaking for him.
The organisers had also arranged a letter signed by the seven men declaring their support to Rajapaksa to be the next prime minister should their party win, but there were only six names. The name of Fowzie had been inadvertently or otherwise been dropped.
The letter was withdrawn and no fresh letter was issued.
Party insiders say that Fowzie had been one of those opposed to granting nominations to Rajapaksa to contest Monday’s elections.
Rajapaksa loyalists put on a brave front saying that Sirisena’s bombshell yesterday was actually a blessing in disguise because according to them the president had suggested that they could reach 113 seats needed to win.
However, the UPFA may have shot itself in the foot by firing a letter to the elections commissioner asking him to stop any publication, discussion on Sirisena’s letter which they say is detrimental to their campaign.