FNO alleges all leading contestants silent on real challenges

* ...asserts outcome will decide the nation’s fate

* 2019 prez poll:


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Federation of National Organizations (FNO), yesterday, warned of dire consequences unless the electorate defeated those bent on pursuing what it called treacherous yahapalana strategy aimed at dividing the country on ethnic lines, at the Nov. 16, 2019 presidential election.

Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, Dr. Wasantha Bandara, attorney-at-law Kalyananda Thiranagama and Jagath Chandrawansa underscored the importance of ensuring wartime Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s victory at the third presidential election since the conclusion of the war in May 2009.

The speakers emphasised that New Democratic Front (NDF) presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa was UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s puppet and if elected he would further the interest of the yahapalana government. They alleged Premier Wickremesinghe had thrown his weight behind Premadasa to use him to achieve their goal.

The FNO called a special media briefing-its first since the SLPP picked Gotabaya Rajapaksa as its candidate on August 11, to explain the grouping stand on the forthcoming election.

Asked by The Island whether the FNO assessment regarding Wickremesinghe’s strategy was accurate as the UNP leader, General Secretary of the Party Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and UNP Assistant Leader Ravi Karunanayake were not seen with Sajith Premadasa when he handed in his nomination paper, Dr. Bandara asserted that the UNP leader was a crafty politician. Wickremesinghe’s absence there, too, was a signal, Dr. Bandara said, the UNP leader was in the process of implementing a strategy in spite of some setbacks.

Dr. Bandara said that had the UNP had managed to implement the civil society agenda, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya would have been their candidate. Had that happened, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake would probably have quit the contest on some pretext or the other, Dr. Bandara said, adding that Sajith Premadasa had received the opportunity thanks to Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera-led group of high profile lawmakers throwing their weight behind him.

The media was told that the UNP believed that Sajith Premadasa could attract a significant number of Buddhist voters hence the nomination at the expense of Wickremesinghe, who initially made a strong claim for nominations.

Wickremesinghe last contested the 2005 presidential election under the elephant symbol. UNP led coalitions fielded General (retd) Sarath Fonseka and Maithripala Sirisena at 2010 and 2015 presidential polls.

At the onset of the briefing, Dr. Amarasekera alleged that all political parties were silent on crucial issues, particularly what the renowned writer called constitutional trap meant to replace the 1978 Constitution.

Dr. Amarasekera urged all major contesting political parties/groupings to reveal their stand on the national issue as well as other challenges. Declaring that the outcome of the forthcoming presidential election could decide the nation’s fate, Dr. Amarasekera emphasized that the much discussed abolition of executive presidency shouldn’t be an issue at the 2019 presidential poll.

The FNO is of the opinion that the executive presidency should remain as long as the 13th Amendment to the Constitution introduced at the behest of India is in place.

Referring to growing US intervention here, Dr. Amarasekera said that the ACSA (Access and Cross Servicing Agreement), SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) and MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation) Compact posed quite a threat to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Dr. Amarasekera alleged that none of the political parties had taken up US interference/intervention here through covert and overt means. In fact, those representing parliament seemed to be deliberately making an effort to suppress real issues, Dr. Amarasekera said, challenging political parties to address the contentious issues.

President Sirisena, in his capacity as the Defence Minister secured cabinet approval for ACSA in the first week of August 2017. SOFA and MCC are still in discussion stage though the incumbent government and the US had already reached consensus on them.

Dr. Amarasekera appreciated a recent statement by chief incumbent of the Asgiriya Chapter regarding the extreme crisis and the danger experienced by Sri Lanka.

Dr. Amarasekera said that the electorate could easily recognize Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Camp as the one that the country could depend on. As the wartime Defence Secretary and a retired proven combat officer of the armed forces, Gotabaya Rajapaksa had served the motherland with distinction and his loyalty to the country couldn’t be disputed under any circumstances. Sajith Premadasa though personally not being involved in anti-Sri Lanka projects, was part of the UNP responsible for treacherous CFA signed in Feb 2002 and the Oct 2015 Geneva Resolution against the country. Sajith Premadasa could not absolve himself of extremely harmful UNP actions, Dr. Amarasekera said. FNO leader Dr. Amarasekera also reminded the UNP’s reaction to the then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s bid to establish P TOMS – an agreement that recognized a specific region under LTTE control.

Commenting on UNP talks with the TNA and SLMC and other minority political parties, Dr. Amarasekera said whatever Sajith Premadasa said, the UNP, at its recent convention reiterated commitment to the devolution of power in a united country. What the UNP really meant was a Federal structure – long standing demand of those who aspired for a separate state in the Northern and Eastern regions.

Chandrawansa flayed the government for deliberately jeopardizing the national security. Chandrawansa who represented the Global Sri Lanka Forum (GSLF) explained as to how the Geneva Resolution 30/1 co-sponsored by Sri Lanka in Oct 2015 facilitated the separatist project. There had never been an instance where a government betrayed its own armed forces before the international community, Chandrawansa said. He said that a section of the media and the foreign funded NGO cabal, too, contributed to the UNP-led project.


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