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MR to assume duties as Opposition Leader at SLPP HQ


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Saturday, 5 January 2019 00:00


 

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa arrives at SLPP headquarters in Battaramulla surrounded by his supporters 

– Pic by Lasantha Kumara 

 

  • Says does not need an office to start serving the people 
  • Pledges to fight against negative Govt. policies 
  • Argues UPFA leaving the coalition Govt. is a positive outcome from the constitutional crisis  
  • Defends decision to take up PM post
  • Criticises limiting Govt. advertising to some outlets as an effort to influence media 
  • To go door to door if necessary to educate public on Govt. wrongs

 

By Nuwan Senarathna 

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said he would commence his duties as at the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) headquarters at Battaramulla, Nelum Mawatha, despite controversy over his membership within the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

The SLPP headquarters was previously used as Rajapaksa’s private office. 

Following the announcement of Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan vacated the Opposition Leader’s office in Parliament but continues to occupy his office in central Colombo. “Office of the Opposition Leader has not been provided to me yet. But I will not wait until I get an office to serve people of this country,” Rajapaksa told reporters at SLPP headquarters after ceremonially beginning duties in 2019. Parliamentarians who support MP Mahinda Rajapaksa, MPs Bandula Gunawardena, Shehan Semasinghe, and Gamini Lokuge were also present at the event along with members of several trade unions and supporters of SLPP. Former Minister Basil Rajapaksa arrived at the office after the ceremony was concluded. 

Rajapaksa said he does not need any facilities to serve the public of the country and pledged to stand against the Government to protect the country from what he described as negative policies. 

Recalling his decision on 26 October 2018 to take the office of Prime Minister, he said there were mixed reactions from the public over his decision, but he reiterated that his decision came after considering the economic and social situation prevailing in the country at the time. 

“I thought if we wait one and a half years to form a government, the situation in the country might be very different. The United National Party (UNP) had planned to privatise more public assets, but we were able to prevent all of that,” he added.

Rajapaksa noted that as 2019 is an election year, a strong coalition should be built to create public momentum to win upcoming elections. He also invited the public to join him in defeating the Government. 

“The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and other affiliated political parties walked out of the Government and that was a huge win for us,” he added. He noted that since the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) has withdrawn from the Government, the UNP has been weakened as it cannot muster a two-thirds majority any longer, and consequently would not be able to pass Bills. He emphasised that efforts such as passing the new Constitution would be stymied as a result.  

Rajapaksa alleged that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had been spreading false information regarding the 51 days when Rajapaksa held the office of Prime Minister. “Ranil Wickremesinghe says we had spent Rs. 8 billion from 26 October to 13 December 2018, but all he and the UNP are trying to do is gain political advantage by spreading false information,” he charged. 

Responding to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement in Parliament where he challenged certain media reports regarding the list of MPs sent to President Maithripala Sirisena proposing Cabinet Minister portfolios, Rajapaksa said such statements could be considered as challenges to media freedom. 

“The Government has decided not to give advertising contracts to select media organisations. We see this as an attempt by the Government to use advertisement revenue as an effort to encourage news organisations to publish news that are only favourable to them. But if they continue such behaviour, we will walk house to house to inform the public about the frauds of the Government,” he warned. 

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