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8 Jan coalition to regroup for continuity of Yahapalanya sans Maithri


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By Dharisha Bastians

Talks began in earnest yesterday to re-forge the broad opposition coalition that ousted President Mahinda Rajapaksa in January, with the United National Party in the lead and several top SLFP members, the Jathika Hela Urumaya and Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party also tipped to join.

Former cricket skipper and Ports Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said negotiations were on to contest as an alliance called  the Yahapalanaya Sandhavu Eksath Jathika Peramuna (the United National Front for Good Governance) that would unite the political parties and ministers that contributed to President Maithripala Sirisena’s victory on 8 January.

Ranatunga told BBC Sinhala that Ministers Rajitha Senaratne, Champika Ranawaka and several others were expected to join the alliance.

The former cricket skipper said that it was not possible to contest on the same platform with politicians facing serious charges of bribery and corruption. He said the group in talks to join the alliance were strongly opposed to allowing these individuals to contest.

Talks with the UNP to get nominations through the party had been fruitful, Ranatunga explained.

A formal announcement about the alliance would be made after the move was approved by the UNP convention that will be held today, he said.

8 Jan...

The UNP has decided to delay the handing in of nominations to facilitate this process.

UNP Leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe confirmed to confidants yesterday that serious talks were underway to bring the political forces of the 8 January election victory back together.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne told reporters that the alliance would include more than 40 political parties and civil society movements that had banded together to defeat the Rajapaksa regime in January. “It is not just an alliance with the UNP, but the JHU, the Pivituru Hetak organization, members of the SLFP and a host of other organizations that will be coming together,” Senaratne said.

SLFP Ministers M.K.D.S. Gunewardane, Western Provincial Councilor Hirunika Premachandra, Senaratne, Ranawaka, Ranatunga and about 11 other SLFP members are involved in the negotiations, sources told DailyFT.

Daily FT learns that Sobitha Thero, the architect of the movement to field a common candidate for the January election is also at the helm of the negotiations. Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka is also mulling the withdrawal of his nominations from the Democratic Party, to contest on the UNP ticket from the Kurunegala District.

The moves follow a decision by President Maithripala Sirisena to grant nominations to his predecessor Rajapaksa on the UPFA ticket. 

Rajapaksa is expected to contest in the Kurunegala District. The former President signed his nomination papers on Thursday at his Colombo residence, in the presence of UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha and several members of the campaign to bring him back to power.

Muslim Congress joins UNP

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader Rauf Hakeem has announced that the party had decided to contest most of the districts in an alliance with the United National Party (UNP).

However, the party has decided to contest Wanni and Batticaloa district independently as SLMC.

SLMC represents the Muslims island wide and UNP also has a strong vote base among Muslims.

Analysts say the alliance between UNP and SLMC will be a boost for both parties. United People’s Freedom Alliance which is led by President Maithripala Sirisena is unlikely to get Muslim votes due to granting nominations to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa under whose regime the community faced severe harassment.

 


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