President Maithripala Sirisena consolidated his position as leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) by appointing known loyalists to the slots allocated to the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). The list includes seven who had contested and lost at the recently concluded parliamentary elections.
This comes in the aftermath of Sirisena’s pre-election moves to trump the so-called Mahinda (Rajapaksa) Faction by removing the General Secretaries of both the SLFP and UPFA and replacing them with his backers. He is said to be behind the move to stop the SLFP’s Central Committee from meeting via a court injunction. He later sacked suspected Mahinda-loyalists from the SLFP’s Central Committee.
President Sirisena also appointed several of these loyalists to a committee tasked to work out an agreement with the United National Party (UNP) to form a ‘National Government’. Almost simultaneously Sirisena moved to evict other ‘Mahinda-loyalists’ from the Executive Committee of the UPFA.
These developments have effectively pruned the UPFA’s strength from a ‘results day’ 95 to just 9 (5 from the National Freedom Front, and 1 each from the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, Ceylon Workers Congress and the New Left Front).
The fate of the other 74 (i.e. leaving out the 12 from the National List) including former president Mahinda Rajapaksa is uncertain since they could be stripped of membership in the SLFP and possibly their parliamentary seat.