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The SLFP led UPFA yesterday urged the political grouping backing opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena to speak with one voice.
Addressing the media at SLFP headquarters, National Freedom Front (NFF) spokesman Mohammed Muzammil alleged that those spearheading Opposition campaign had been pulling in different directions. The NFF split from the JVP several years ago over differences over policy.
SLFP Treasurer Dallas Alahapperuma and LSSP leader Prof. Tissa Vitharana, too, joined the briefing.
The former parliamentarians was responding to Maithripala Sirisena’s declaration in an interview with BBC’s Sandeshaya on Saturday that he would hold defence portfolio as well as retain constitutional powers required to rein in Provincial Councils. Maithripala Sirisena admitted that abolition of the executive powers pertaining to the 13th Amendment would automatically lead to the creation of nine governments in the country. Abolition of such executive powers would empower Provincial Councils, the former SLFP General Secretary said.
Muzammil said that Maithripala Sirisena’s statements reflected the utter confusion in the Opposition camp as regards far reaching constitutional changes envisaged in case he won the presidency.
He pointed out that Maithripala Sirisena had also declared that in accordance with the powers vested in the presidency, he would be the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, therefore responsible for national security.
The presidential candidate also declared that the subject of good governance would come under him, though Parliament and cabinet of ministers were to receive powers.
Accusing the Opposition of causing political turmoil, Muzammil, subsequently pointed out that Maithripala Sirisena, perhaps inadvertently admitted that the executive powers pertaining to Provincial Councils couldn’t be done away with as long as the 13th Amendment remained intact.
JRJ established Provincial Councils in late 80s in accordance with Indo-Lanka peace accord signed in the wake of Operation Liberation meant to liberate the Jaffna peninsula being forced to stop by threat of Indian intervention.
Muzammil demanded that the Opposition explain its position with regard to key policy matters. Responding to a query by The Island, NFF official said that the Opposition had clearly rejected Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha thera’s push for abolition of presidency. "Maithripala Sirisena’s position is akin to the JHU proposal. Both JHU and Pivithuru Hetak pushed for abolition of what they called dictatorial features in the Constitution but to retain presidency and place defence portfolio under the President."
Responding to a query posed by BBC Sandeshaya, Maithripala Sirisena emphasised that he never promised to abolish executive presidency within 24 hours. The Opposition always spoke of a 100-day project to restore democracy and that would be fulfilled. Sirisena asserted that they might have to go for a referendum to pave the way for constitutional changes.