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News


 Former COPE Chairman now UNPís broker

COPE Chairman, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe who crossed over to the opposition on the eve of the second reading of the budget last month, has now assumed the role of MP broker for the main opposition UNP, it is learnt.
Rajapakshe recently brokered Hussein Bhaila, leaving it up to former UNP Chairman Malik Samarawickrema to seal the deal. A journalist telephoned Samarawickrema to inform him that Bhaila would meet him at a residence near Alfred House Gardens at an appointed hour.

While waiting for the Muslim MP to show, Samarawickrema engaged in some idle chit chat with the chief occupant of the house, and finally when Bhaila was more than 15 minutes late, the former UNP Chairman called the MPís mobile telephone.
But it was Bhailaís son who answered the telephone, and informed Samarawickrema that his father had left his mobile at home and gone out.

As it turns out, Bhaila was in fact at Temple Trees visiting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the time he was supposed to have met up with Samarawickrema. When the former UNP Chairman had called to invite Bhaila for discussions, the MP had promptly informed the President of the invitation he had received and Rajapaksa had asked him to go ahead with the meeting. However, the President changed his mind at the last moment and insisted that Bhaila should come and meet him at the same hour he was supposed to meet Samarawickrema.

Samarawickrema is in fact involved in the effort to win over government MPís to the Opposition, in the run up to the crucial third budget reading and vote on December 14. He has been seen in the parliamentary complex several times over the last few days, and even had lunch with SLFP Mahajana Wing Convenor Mangala Samaraweera at parliament last week.

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