Rejecting their request to be recognised as another political party represented in Parliament, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday offered the National Freedom Front (NFF) and its members a chance to be recognised as independent members of the eighth Parliament.
“NFF is not a part of the UPFA as confirmed by MP Dinesh Gunawardena. I thank him for the clarification. So if they are moving out, the available option is to recognise them as independent members. They cannot be recognised as a political party. We can’t stop them from sitting as independent members. However, I am thanking them for realising there is no future for them under the leadership of the former President, Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa,” said the Prime Minister.
Responding to the Prime Minister, NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa declared that they would continue to support Rajapaksa even though the NFF had walked out of the UPFA.
“Our request to be recognised as another political party in Parliament is with the Speaker. There are five Parliamentarians in our political party. There are prior examples and the Speaker can also give an independent decision without delay,” he said.
According to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, such a decision could not be hurried and would have to be studied in detail. “I need to discuss this with the party leaders. There are some members from the UPFA now with you. So I need to talk to the UPFA as well. Anyway, I will let you know my decision as soon as possible,” said the Speaker.
Disapproving of the NFF’s request to be recognised as a separate political party for not contesting as a political party during the last general election, Minister of Higher Education and Highways and Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella said no such recognition was possible at the moment.
The NFF was formed by Weerawansa in May 2008 after breaking away from the JVP with 10 Parliamentarians. After the last general election, Weerawansa and his members, who were considered part of the UPFA, were reduced to five seats. Currently their membership in Parliament comprises Weerawansa, Jayantha Samaraweera, Udayashantha Gunasekara, Weerakumara Dissanayake and Niroshan Premarathne. (AH)
UPFA welcomes Wimal’s decision
The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) General Secretary, Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Mahinda Amaraweera yesterday welcomed the NFF’s decision to leave the political coalition.
According to the Minister, such a decision would be advantageous for the restructuring process of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the UPFA which was now underway.
“The NFF should contact me if they want to leave the UPFA. Instead, they asked the Speaker for his ruling. The NFF could submit the letter to leave and the UPFA is ready to accept it. MP Weerawansa and his fellow members contested as part of the UPFA. Their members should thank the voters of the SLFP for sending them to Parliament. We could see their performance once they leave UPFA and start performing on their own,” said the Minister.
It was learnt that the NFF leader submitted the letter to leave the UPFA last evening. (AH)