UNP leader and Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and SLFP breakaway group leader, Rajitha Senaratne, signing electoral pact at the Prime Minister’s Office in Colombo on Sunday. Photo: T. Ramakrishnan
The United National Party (UNP)-led United National Front for Good Governance will strive for unity among all ethnic communities in Sri Lanka, promotion of reconciliation and devolution of power, according to leaders of the Front.
While Ranil Wickremesinghe, UNP leader and Prime Minister, referred to the theme of unity, Rajitha Senaratne, leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)’s breakaway group, said though the Eelam War was over, peace had not yet been established. Rauf Hakeem, chief of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, one of the constituents of the Front, said this was an opportunity to nurture reconciliation. Patali Champika Ranawaka of the JHU said the Front, if elected to power, would attach top priority to making the country prosperous.
They were speaking at the Temple Trees, the Prime Minister’s office, at an event to mark the signing of pacts among the UNP, the SLFP’s breakaway group and the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU).
Devolution of powers
When asked by The Hindu whether the concept of good governance encompassed decentralisation and devolution of power, Mr. Wickremesinghe replied: “everything.”
Mr. Hakeem said the formation of the Front was a fitting answer to “disruptive forces” that were seeking to derail the verdict of the presidential election in January. He expressed the hope that the Front would form a “stable government.”
On the question of cohesion among constituents of the new formation, Mr Ranawaka asserted that the coalition was a “cohesive front.” Its objective was to strengthen the people’s mandate given at the time of the presidential election and implement promises given then which remained unfulfilled.
Sirisena likely to stay away
President and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) chairperson Maithripala Sirisena, who has received flak recently from certain sections for reportedly clearing the nomination of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the parliamentary elections, is going to stay away from the polls.
Indicating this in a chat with The Hindu at his office here, United National Party (UNP) leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his reply to a question whether he felt sad about Mr. Sirisena giving nomination to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said the position of Mr. Sirisena must be looked against the backdrop that “though he [Mr. Sirisena] is the President, he does not control the party fully. So, he is influencing events from his position. Anyway, he is not going to take part in the elections.”
Mr. Sirisena is likely to make his position clear on Monday.