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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2740

Memorandum of Understanding between UNP and SLFP in trouble due to factional division in the UNP

By Walter Jayawardhana

Colombo, 11 October, (Asiantribune.com): The proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be reached between the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the main opposition United National Party (UNP) is in trouble mainly because a strong division of opinions on the subject, party sources said. Tissa Attanayaka , UNP  General Secretary expressed his utter dissatisfaction about the statement of government minister Nimal Siripala de Silva that that the MOU will be written subject to the "Mahinda Chinthanaya" the manifesto of President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the last Presidential election.Tissa Attanayaka , UNP General Secretary expressed his utter dissatisfaction about the statement of government minister Nimal Siripala de Silva that that the MOU will be written subject to the "Mahinda Chinthanaya" the manifesto of President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the last Presidential election.

Already UNP General Secretary, Tissa Attanayaka , a protégé of the party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has expressed his utter dissatisfaction about the statement of government minister Nimal Siripala de Silva that that the MOU will be written subject to the "Mahinda Chinthanaya" the manifesto of President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the last Presidential election.

Meanwhile a meeting between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has been postponed until the differences between party factions are straightened out in the United National Party working committee and parliamentary group, the same sources said .

Party sources said the differences have arisen "between strongly nationalistic forces" who believe political consensus should be found in the South to face the separatists with one voice and factors of the UNP who favor a policy of appeasement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the terrorist group who are engaged in military clashes with the security forces of the government. The latter profess there should be no military clashes like during the era of Ranil Wickremesinghe’s premiership and they also belong to the "anti-war crusaders" of the UNP. Some of them are also connected with certain NGO’s funded by foreign countries. In fact, sources said one was even ready to launch a party re-organization project all over the country with NGO funds.According to the statement of Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva MOU will be written subject to the "Mahinda Chinthanaya" the manifesto of President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the last Presidential election.According to the statement of Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva MOU will be written subject to the "Mahinda Chinthanaya" the manifesto of President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the last Presidential election.

National organizer of the UNP and former minister S. B. Dissanayaka has already attacked President Rajapaksa saying he was masquerading both as “Dutugemunu” and “Parakramabahu”, two kings who united the country in the past waging war against foreign invasions and divisions.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayaka said it was wrong for Nimal Siripala de Silva , as a person who took part in the bi-party talks to have said at a public meeting that the six point MOU would be drafted according to the Mahinda Chinthanaya . He said it was accurate to say that the six point MOU would be drafted according to similar points evident in the SLFP as well as UNP Presidential manifestos.

Tissa Attanayaka said in a statement that he categorically rejected the contention of minister Nimal Siripala de Silva that 80% of the UNP members of Parliament has accepted Mahinda Chinthanaya.

He said such statements of Nimal Siripala de Silva would only obstruct the two parties from getting in to an agreement.

Meanwhile former Minister Laxman Kiriella said whatever support the UNP should give can only be given from the opposition benches of the parliament and not by joining the government.

Kiriella has started campaigning among the UNP parliamentarians that they should not accept portfolios in the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. The people who hold that view have privately canvassed the view that by allowing people to hold portfolios in the government there is a danger that those people would not leave the government after the temporary period of the bi-party MOU.

But in a public statement Kiriella said , that the electorate both in the 2004 general elections and last year’s Presidential election did not give the UNP a mandate to hold portfolios but to work in the opposition. Therefore, they should not hold any cabinet positions in the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.

But those who hold the view that the UNP should accept ministerial positions say to implement the common program accepted by the two parties they must have some executive power to implement the program.

Party insiders said there is also an inter-party power struggle inter-connected to these proposals in the party. Some identified the main power struggle as the one challenging the party leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe. They said, Rukman Senanayaka has been made the chairman of the United National Party, mainly a titular position under the party leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe to keep these inter party clashes in check. Immediately after the Presidential election, Rukmnan Senanayaka, the grandson of UNP founder leader D.S.Senanayaka led a large group of rural members of parliament demanding Ranil Wickremesinghe should resign from the party leadership.

- Asian Tribune -

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