In order to successfully address minority grievances, a president should have the backing of a majority of the majority community, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) said.
Addressing the media today, SLPP spokesmen said the party’s presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa, supposedly enjoying widespread support in the Sinhalese community and being able to “speak to their hearts”, will be able to resolve various issues faced by minority communities.
Joint Opposition MP Dr. Sarath Amunugama speaking at the press briefing jointly organised by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) said Rajapaksa can end “sectarian conflict” through what he called a rational solution.
“We think the best interests of the minority communities will be served by working with a leader who has the support of the majority community, namely the Sinhalese. Ethnic relations in Sri Lanka need a rational, objective solution. Far too long have we been wrapped up in various issues. Only Gotabaya Rajapaksa can break that old mould of 71 years of conflict by bringing in new technology and emphasis on education. Genuine interests of the minorities will be looked after only if there is a strong leader who comes from the south. Old religious and sectarian conflicts cannot take this country forward,” he said.
MP Faiszer Musthapha meanwhile said that the present Government has failed the Muslim people.
“A lot of us expected that with the change in regime there would be national reconciliation and national harmony, as there were issues previously. But we saw Digana and Gintota where issues of the minorities increased. With the Easter Sunday attacks, there was incitement against the Muslims,” Musthapha said.
“The UNF (United National Front) is fully conscious of the fact that they will not get the majority support of the majority community. Their strategy is to get a certain percentage of the majority votes and bank on the minority votes for victory. There is no point in having a leader who is elected with a minority of the majority community and a majority of the minority community,” he added.
Dr. Amunugama claimed that the United National Party (UNP) has imposed restrictions on rival National Democratic Front (NDF) presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa.
“Though Premadasa is the nominal NDF candidate, behind him is the same old gang. His hands have been tied from the resolutions of the UNP. Same old volcanoes are spitting some smoke. His hands, foot, as well as his mouth are tied. He is only the figurehead for an old carcass,” Amnugama added.
Asked about the public debate to which Premadasa has publicly invited Rajapaksa, the SLPP said that the party has yet to be officially informed.
“He has mentioned that in a public meeting. We have not been contacted. It has not proceeded beyond the platform of challenge,” said Dr. Amunugama, adding that Rajapaksa is an excellent speaker with a good command of both Sinhala and English.