The Central Working Committee of the coalition forged between the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the Sri Lanka Nidahas Podujana Sandanaya, met for the first time on Tuesday to appoint alliance office-bearers and prepare for the forthcoming General Elections.
At a press briefing held yesterday, SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara said the coalition party leader Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had requested that there be no conflict within the party.
In addition to this, Technology and Innovation State Minister Thilanga Sumathipala had made a special request to appoint two Vice Chairs for Tamil and Muslim representation. The alliance thus represented all the country’s ethnicities, Jayasekara explained.
“Five parties joined the coalition on Tuesday and the Central Working Committee approved this,” Jayasekara said, explaining that the alliance now consisted of 14 parties. He also commented on Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa’s invitation to the SLFP to join his alliance, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, saying: “What I have to tell him is to solve the conflict within his party and contest the elections under the Samagi Jana Bala Wegaya or any other alliance, but not to use the SLFP in any of this.”
He added: “We will never again form joint governments between the SLFP and the UNP, become a party that allows for the rise of UNP leaders or join the UNP to make Sri Lanka take steps backward.”
Jayasekara also stated that any sort of destruction of the SLFP occurred solely because it joined with the UNP and that that was a mistake the party was not prepared to make again.
Questions were also raised regarding UNP Parliamentarian Rauff Hakeem’s coalition with minority parties and Jayasekara said Hakeem was not a decisive force in the upcoming elections.
“As minorities, there will be no objections, problems, human rights violations or any difficulties and we will not leave room for this,” Jayasekara said, adding, “But they have no right to chastise governments or manipulate them to the benefit of their extremist forces.”
Jayasekara also stated that the SLFP party leaders meeting held recently had focused on Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from UN Resolutions 30/1 and 40/1 and the statement made by Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday.
“The 30/1 resolution holds that Sri Lanka violated human rights during the armed conflict and includes proposals on the separation of power, abolition of the presidential system, compensation for terrorists, investigation of war crimes and the abolition of the Prevention of Terrorism Act,” Jayasekara said, adding, “While some of the provisions should be carried out in the country, there were no discussions agreeing to the resolution in or out of Cabinet and Parliament.”
He also responded to comments made by UNP Parliamentarian Ajith Perera, who recently said that Sri Lanka should withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) entirely instead of from only the resolutions.
“Even though we are withdrawing from these resolutions, that does not mean we are leaving the UNHRC. We will operate within the UNHRC as a country, but we will withdraw from resolutions that can cause harm to our country,” the SLFP General Secretary said.
He added that the Government was prepared to hold discussions within the UNHRC on any human rights violations that may have occurred under any Government of the country.
In response to questions on the SLFP’s stance on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact, Jayasekara said they had always opposed it. However, he welcomed the appointment of a committee to review the compact, saying: “If a country is offering us a grant and we are rejecting it, we need to look at the reasons for rejecting it, so it is good that a committee has been appointed.”
He added that if the country does accept the grant, it should be in a way that protects the sovereignty, identity and respect of Sri Lanka.