The decision taken by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s (SLFP) Central Committee to join a National Government with the United National Party (UNP) has not been endorsed by the majority of the party’s parliamentary group, who will sit in the Opposition in the new Parliament, Ratnapura District United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), MP Ranjith de Zoysa claimed.
Speaking to The Nation regarding the issue, de Zoysa said a group of UPFA MPs loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa were opposed to the concept of the National Government and would not be part of it.
“Though the Central Committee of the SLFP, which is the largest party in the UPFA coalition, decided to join this National Government, the decision was not endorsed by the majority of the party’s parliamentary group. As such, we want no part of this new government,” he claimed.
De Zoysa also said MPs who were supportive of Mahinda Rajapaksa on August 20 (Thursday) signed a document proposing the former President’s name as the new Opposition Leader. About 65 MPs have signed this document, which will be submitted to the party leader and the Speaker when the new parliament convenes.
When queried about Rajapaksa’s public statement that he would not accept the Opposition Leader post, de Zoysa said Mahinda Rajapaksa was no longer in a position to take decisions by himself. “If you look at the 95 UPFA MPs who were elected to Parliament, the truth is, they all got elected using the popularity enjoyed by Mahinda Rajapaksa. He is an icon of the SLFP. As such, he has to listen to the views of the majority”.
However, as the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has already indicated its intentions to request for the Opposition Leader post, the MP said it was still too early to speak on what might happen if names other than that of Rajapaksa were put forward. “Parliament has to convene and a new Speaker elected before we can think about that,” he pointed out.