S.B. Dissanayake | Susil Premajayantha

As divisions within the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) reach breaking point, President Maithripala Sirisena is to remove UPFA General Secretary and SLFP National Organizer Susil Premajayantha from his positions, The Nation learns.

Minister of Rural Economic Affairs, S.B. Dissanayake is to replace Premajayantha as UPFA General Secretary, sources reveal. Dr. Rajitha Senaratne meanwhile, is tipped to be appointed as the SLFP’s National Organizer.

Political analysts point out that the expected removal of Premajayantha is an indication that President Maithripala Sirisena is moving decisively to strengthen his grip on the SLFP, which is currently in strife after the rise within of a faction loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

While President Maithripala Sirisena was appointed as Chairman of the SLFP soon after his victory at January’s Presidential Election, he has faced a strong challenge to his leadership from Rajapaksa loyalists within the SLFP and larger UPFA alliance.

Premajayantha has recently been linked to the pro-Rajapaksa faction and is reported to have been promoting Mahinda Rajapaksa within the party.

S.B. Dissanayake, who last held the post of Minister of Higher Education under the Rajapaksa government, was former National Organizer of the United National Party (UNP) before his crossover to the government. He was once a close confidant of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga before the two fell out quite dramatically.