By Skandha Gunasekara
Leader of the Nava Sama Samaja Party, Wickramabahu Karunaratne, yesterday (30 May) alleged that there was conflict within the Rajapaksa camp regarding former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa being their next Presidential candidate.
According to Karunaratne, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and several of his close confidantes were against the former Defense Secretary contesting, as it would undermine the former President’s chances of regaining power.
“In order for former President Rajapaksa to return to power, the next President must pave the way constitutionally. Although Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is being promoted as their Presidential candidate, Mahinda is against this, as it would greatly hinder his chance coming back to power. There is a conflict within the Rajapaksa camp.”
Wickramabahu said that the former President would need to field a candidate who would do his bidding once elected President.
“They need a candidate who will carry out the necessary constitutional changes to provide for the former President to come into power once again,” Wickramabahu said. He then pointed out that some in the Rajapaksa camp believe that the eldest of the Rajapaksa brothers, Chamal Rajapaksa, would be the best candidate, as he was not power hungry and could be easily influenced. “We can see Vasudeva taking this stance, saying that promoting Gotabhaya as their next Presidential candidate would be a serious blunder.”
However, Wickramabahu said that there were others in the Rajapaksa camp who strongly believed that Gotabhaya should be the next Presidential candidate, as he was an attractive figure who could garner the majority vote.
Furthermore, Wickramabahu went on to note that there was a simultaneous campaign to tarnish Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s image. “The Prime Minister is a powerful figure and there is an active campaign to discredit him and damage his image.”
In addition, he said that the UNP must re-organise in a proper manner and that newly elected UNP National Organiser Minister Navin Dissanayake had a significant role to play in the future of the Party. “The UNP must be re-organised in a proper manner before the next Presidential election. Navin Dissanayake can also take the helm of the party, following in his father’s footsteps as a great leader of the party, and play a significant role in the UNP.”
JO decides to oppose 20A
The political parties of the Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday unanimously decided to oppose the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.
Joint Opposition MP Udaya Gammanpila told the Daily FT that the decision was taken during a meeting of the parties chaired by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Elaborating on the matter, MP Gammanpila said that the Presidential Election was the only election which was not contested on a ward basis and therefore, it could not be delayed.
“Through the Amendment to the Provincial Council Act, the Government changed the electoral system, making the Local Government and Provincial Council Elections based on wards. Through this and the delimitation process, the Government can keep delaying elections indefinitely. The Presidential Election is the only one that cannot be delayed in this manner,” he said, adding that for this reason, the Joint Opposition was against the 20th amendment as it would curtail the masses right to vote.
He further noted that his party, the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, and the National Freedom Front were against the abolition of the Executive Presidency.
The 20th amendment presented by the JVP seeks to completely abolish the Executive Presidency. (SG)