Will SLFP SLPP talks fail?

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna will hold their third round of talks to build a broad alliance tomorrow morning amid mounting tensions between the two groups.

The meeting which is to take place at the Opposition Leader’s office will be open ended, the General Secretary of the SLFP Dayasiri Jayasekara told RepublicNext.

Asked what the agenda would be he said “let’s see.”

The tensions between the two parties were exacerbated when they went their separate ways during the voting for the government’s budget last week.

That is  putting a brake on the attempts to build an anti-UNP front that would need to bring them together.

Last week there were attempts to form a united front to defeat the budget.

Last Thursday President Maithripala Sirisena and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa jointly chaired a Parliamentary Group meeting of the Members of Parliament from the Joint Opposition at Parliament to discuss a common strategy.

But that failed the pro-Sirisena SLFP faction held a separate meeting the following day and decided to abstain from voting.

Voting against the budget Bill would be shooting themselves in the foot as the allocation for the President would also be cut.

Many of the pro-Rajapaksa faction have already joined or have indicated that they will be joining the newly formed Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna while the pro-Sirisena faction identify themselves as being from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

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Differences between the factions deepen

Open differences have emerged among the MPs of the two factions of the United People’s Freedom Alliance in the past month as the faction supporting President Sirisena has stayed away from voting against the Government at crucial times of the process.

The pro-Rajapaksa faction is complaining that although the Sirisena faction has been highly critical of the Government during the debates, at voting time their MPs have not turned up.

The SLPP Chairman Prof. G L Peiris told RepublicNext that the “words and the deeds of these SLFP MPs do not match.” Earlier this week he challenged the Sirisena faction to vote against the Budget.

Settling the dispute is a major milestone for the political future of both parties as it will either be the beginning or the end of a broad anti-UNP alliance to fight forthcoming elections.

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