General elections : I’ll remain neutral: President

Published : 9:19 am  July 15, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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Bpra2y Sandun A Jayasekera
President Maithripala Sirisena in a hard-hitting statement said he would remain neutral during the campaigning for the August 17 general election and that his dislike of ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his antipathy towards him remains unchanged as at the January 8 election.

Speaking exclusively to the media at the Presidential Secretariat last afternoon, he said he was under severe pressure by a large section of SLFP and UPFA members to agree to nominate Mr. Rajapaksa and was harangued by the UPFA allies when he refused to appoint him as the prime ministerial candidate in case the UPFA won the election.

The President said he was compelled to dissolve parliament on June 26 before the no- confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe could be taken up for debate because there were attempts to bring back Rajapaksa and appoint him as prime minister after getting a UPFA national list member to resign.

“I am keen to consolidate the January 8 victory. I don’t care which party wins on August 17. I have made certain pledges to the people of this country and I want to fulfill those pledges in the next five years with an untainted parliament. The people will assess my performance at the end of my tenure as President,” he said.

President Sirisena said Mr. Rajapaksa had blocked the opportunity for other senior members of the SLFP to rise to the premiership by insisting that the post of prime minister be reserved to him after the election.
‘The media has castigated me in the most unfair and mischievous manner after the UPFA decided to nominate ex-president Rajapaksa and before that for refusing to appoint him as the prime ministerial candidate.

“What would have been the situation if this kind of criticism and comments in the media took place under the previous regime?  
 You are aware how media personnel were treated by the Rajapaksa regime . You are also aware how they went missing or murdered in broad daylight. Therefore, I request the media not to misuse the new found media freedom and turn it into the freedom of the wild ass or ‘Walburu Nidahasa’,” he stressed.pra1

The UNP-led minority government under him had done many good things during its short tenure of less than six months despite the UPFA having 147 seats in parliament. The most important achievement was the restoration of democracy, rule of law, independence of the judiciary and the enactment of the 19th Amendment which paved the way to establish the Constitutional Council and the reinstatement of independent commissions.

“The mini budget presented in February gave relief to the people by reducing the prices of many essential items. All that good work was possible in such a short period of time as there was peace and the rule of law in the country,” the President said.
He pointed out that he wanted to introduce electoral reforms simultaneously with the 19th Amendment but unfortunately it failed and that he had prevented a clause detrimental to media freedom being included in the 19A.

Commenting on the controversial sale of Central Bank bonds, the President said a COPE sub committee inquired into the scandal in addition to a three-member committee appointed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.
“I remember telling the Prime Minister, it would have been better if the Central Bank Governor resigned from his post at least for the time being but it did not happen,” he said.


President Sirisena highlighted the fact that the people of this country elected him President on January 8 because they had kept their trust and confidence in him as a politician who had never engaged in corruption, thuggery or misdeeds.
“I am forever committed to safeguarding the people’s trust placed in me and will dedicate myself during my tenure as excecutive president to protect and promote democracy, good governance and the rule of law and I will never betray the trust placed in me by the 49 civil society organizations and political parties such as the UNP, JHU, TNA, SLMC, JVP and millions of ordinary people who elevated me to the presidency,” he said.

The President said if he did not accept the leadership of the SLFP and the UPFA which was offered to him after the January 8 victory, the disintegration of the SLFP would have been imminent and all the good work done by the minority UNP government who had only 47 seats out of the 225 in parliament would not have been a reality including the relief given to the people and the passing of progressive Acts in parliament and introduction of the 19th Amendment and tabling of the 20th Amendment.

Never forget how Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was assassinated after he introduced a new political, economic and social revolution in 1956. He had to tackle hundreds of strikes in three and half years.  “None of the good work could have been done if Rajapaksa remained leader of the SLFP and the UPFA. All that was possible because I accepted the leadership of both parties,” the president said.