Navin says ‘adios’ to UPFA

Monday, 1 December 2014 01:08 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Gamini Dissanayake’s son returns to the UNP Pledges support for opposition campaign to abolish presidency in resignation letter Points to major fraud and irregularities in power projects and Chinese investments Tells Mahinda: “Decision made on principle. No personal animosity” By Dharisha Bastians The political week looked poised to get off to a dramatic start with Minister and Nuwara Eliya District MP Navin Dissanayake quitting his portfolio and announcing his support for common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena. Navin Dissanayake, who is the son of late UNP Leader Gamini Dissanayake, will rejoin the United National Party at its Sirikotha headquarters in Pita Kotte today. “I have resigned from all my positions in the Government. Hope to join the movement for democracy tomorrow. The country must be free from family corruption and nepotism,” the former Minister of Public Management Reforms tweeted yesterday, announcing his resignation. The MP has announced he will be supporting Maithripala Sirisena’s candidacy in the presidential election scheduled for 8 January.

 Common Candidate MoU signing today

After weeks of negotiations and hammering out final policy details, opposition parties will ink a memorandum of understanding today morning to field a common opposition candidate at the January presidential poll. The signing is to take place at the open air theatre of the Vihara Maha Devi Park at 10.00 a.m. It will be preceded by religious observers. Led by the main opposition United National Party, the alliance of opposition parties and civil society movements will cement a common consensus to abolish the executive presidency, restore democratic freedoms and independent commissions to depoliticise the system. Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero and JHU Chairman Athuraliye Rathana, Sarath Fonseka recent Government defectors, trade unionists, artists and civil society activists will participate in the event.
Dissanayake’s defection brings the total number of MPs the ruling UPFA coalition has lost since the announcement of Sirisena’s candidature up to 11. Dissanayake, 45, joined the UPFA Government in 2007 with 17 others from the UNP, to help President Rajapaksa’s war effort. In a letter addressed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Dissanayake thanked the President for concluding the war, but noted that the situation with regard to corruption and fraud within his Government was “no longer tolerable.” Dated 29 November, Dissanayake’s letter alludes to preferential treatment of ministers, large-scale fraud and irregularities and broken promises by the Rajapaksa Government on abolishing the executive presidency. Dissnayake complained to the President that he had not been provided the means to fulfill the needs of the rural people in the Nuwara Eliya District. “Other Ministers were given large amounts of funds and opportunities to create jobs, but we were allocated meagre funds and could not create employment,” the letter reads. Despite numerous complaints to political leaders, his grievances were not adequately addressed Dissanayake claimed. The former Minister also explains that his late father Gamini Dissanayake had worked together with his colleague Lalith Athulathmudali to abolish the executive presidency or subject it to serious reform in 1990. “This policy had been a part of his election manifesto for the presidency in 1994,” Dissanayake said in his letter to President Rajapaksa. He said the abolition of the presidency had also been included in the Mahinda Chinthana and Mahinda Chinthana Iridi Dakma policy statements in 2005 and 2010. “Twenty years after my father’s death, there is a clarion call from all sections of society to abolish this system. Therefore, I hope to join hands with the forces mobilising to abolish the executive presidency,” he told the President in his resignation letter. Dissanayake also revealed details about major frauds with regard to projects undertaken by the UPFA Government and irregularities in Chinese investments. “Three weeks ago I revealed a Rs. 1.5 billion fraud in the purchase of coal for the CEB by the Power and Energy Ministry. This is just one instance. I am also aware of the many irregularities in Chinese projects. This situation is no longer tolerable,” the letter stated. “However much our political journeys differ, I have no personal animosity with you. This is entirely a decision being made on principle,” Dissanayake told the President. He also expressed his gratitude to President Rajapaksa for ending the war. With Dissanayake’s defection, the Government majority in Parliament decreases to 150 MPs, or exactly a two-thirds majority in the 225 member legislature.