Tantrums after Sri Lanka ex-president’s nomination drama

ECONOMYNEXT – At least two staunch loyalists of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa have thrown tantrums when they discovered they were dropped as candidates at the August elections.

Western provincial council member Samanmalee Sakalasuriya was miffed that she was not being considered a candidate from the Gampaha district despite her strong loyalty to the former president.

She was among a host of other drop outs who complained to former president who tried to console them by saying that he himself managed to get UPFA (United People’s Freedom Alliance) nominations with the greatest difficulty.

Colleagues offered her a consolation prize of a selfie with the former strongman, but she turned it down.

Instead, she posted on her facebook page a picture of another war general who lost elections, Winston Churchill, with a saying: "If you’re going through hell, keep going."

A colleague said Samanmalee was being churlish to turn douwn an opportunity to rub shoulders with Rajapaksa at the start of his comeback bid minutes after he signed nomination papers to stand as a UPFA candidate from Kurunegala.

In fact, Rajapaksa’s nomination was also being held up because of Samanmalee. She was the only SLFP elected representative who joined the “Bring Back Mahinda” platform in Kandy violating an SLFP fatwa banning its members from attending those rallies.

When the SLFP initiated disciplinary action against her, she demanded that similar action be taken against Maithripala Sirisena for working against Rajapaksa at the presidential election.

At the time, president Sirisena laughed off the remark as a sign that there was freedom to question the leader of the party, a privilege SLFP members apparently did not enjoy under Rajapaksa.

However, president Sirisena appeared to have an elephant’s memory and insisted that Samanmalee be kept out as a candidate and it was a debate over accommodating her that held up Rajapaksa’s own nomination, party sources said.

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Another strong Rajapaksa loyalist, Duminda Silva, who had denied allegations that he was a drug kingpin, led a demonstration outside the SLFP (Sri Lanka Freedom Party) headquarters to secure a nomination.

Duminda who was often addressed as "sudhu putha" (white son) by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and his wife, is being denied nominations in line with a policy of keeping out some of the bad hats, an SLFP source said.

The same source said that nominations of the UPFA were to be handed in by Monday but the Rajapaksa camp was still worried that if President Maithripala Sirisena might have a last minute change of heart.

As a fall back, the former president and his loyalists were keeping an alternate political party to enter the fray in case they are deprived of nominations at the last minute by a Sirisena who is facing scathing attacks from his own supporters for accommodating members of the defeated regime.

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