UNF partners have no leadership capabilities
Joint Opposition Alliance formally launched Nandana Gunatillake, Kamal Deshapriya quit NFF Tamil-Muslim alliance still uncertain Milinda Moragoda to form new party?
English translation of the Dasa Raja Pratipatti document enunciating the objectives and principles of the United National Alliance
Objectives and principles
  • Safeguarding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of an undivided Sri Lanka
  • Drafting a new Constitution free from the flaws and shortcomings present in the Constitution now in force, giving more powers to Parliament, abolition of the Executive Presidency within 180 days, establishing an office of an Executive Prime Minister accountable to Parliament, inclusion of provisions which in effect shall negate powers of the Executive which could be used to arbitrarily, dissolve Parliament and appoint Ministers. The new Constitution also shall provide for determination of the number of Ministers ( Cabinet, Deputy and Subject) to be appointed, which number shall not exceed one third of the total number of members of Parliament
  • Repeal of provisions relating to immunity from prosecution now being enjoyed by the Executive President
  • Ensuring economic freedom to enable every citizen to enjoy equal opportunities for economic advancement
  • Safeguarding political freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of access to information which shall ensure the democratic rights of the people
  • Safeguarding the various rights of the society, by protecting the socio-cultural freedoms and rights of women and children to ensure equal treatment of all, irrespective of ethnic, religious, and cultural differences
  • Establishing a clean and transparent governance having freed the country from the grip of bribery and corruption

Dasa Raja Pratipatti aims at ushering in:

1. An independent State, which all communities could consider as their home, and proudly call it their own.
Bringing into being a national state where the human dignity, human rights and democratic rights of the people belonging to Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Malay, Burgher, Parsi and Sindhi communities who look on Sri Lanka as their motherland are protected while ensuring their common Sri Lankan identity. Creating a peaceful and free social environment and apolitical administrative system conducive for attaining these objectives.

2. Building a law-abiding peaceful society through a process reconciliation.
The main responsibility of a government is to rehabilitate the segments of population which had to face dire consequences from both natural and man-made disasters. Priority has to be given to the rehabilitation of people affected by Tsunami, the families of soldiers killed in action, those displaced by hostilities as well as those disabled due to hostilities. Rebuilding of a peaceful society where the rule of the law, justice and fair-play and all human freedoms reign supreme, and where they are also free from the fear of an impending war, suppression and terror, following the process of rehabilitation.

3. Buddhism-led multi-religious state where freedoms of conscience and thought are safe- guarded.
Safeguarding the freedom of faith which provides for freedom for any citizen to profess or embrace any religion according to his free will, while protecting and fostering Buddhism in accordance with the assurance given in the Constitution.

4. A prosperous State where all can live in happiness.
Building an economy which ensures the equitable distribution of the resources of the country among all peoples. Increasing the per capita income while rescuing the impoverished from poverty. Generating job opportunities according to a time- frame. Taking measures to improve the quality of professional services and safeguarding the trade union rights of the working class. Giving pride of place in society to youth and women and looking after the community of senior citizens as a responsibility of the government.

5 A State that builds a national economy where all can share the dividends.
While taking advantage of positive global trends, protecting professions, industries, small and medium scale entrepreneurs as well as large scale enterprises from harmful trends. Stepping up productivity and supply of services in all sectors. Building an indigenous economy with state patronage.

6. A State that provides a health care system that ensures the health of all, a housing program that ensures shelter for all and a system of education suited to meets the needs of 21st century which would in the final analysis convert the resulting balanced development into a social asset.

Establishment of a national health care and social security system to meet the following objectives: Taking all possible measures to protect the health of all, eliminating fast spreading malnutrition, uplifting health care for all with emphasis on health care needs of women and children, launching a special program to provide special care to the disabled in the society.

7. A State that would produce a global citizen while safeguarding the continuity of long nurtured national cultural values.
Creating the necessary environment for producing a dynamic Sri Lankan within the expanding global society, while implementing programs aimed at fostering and protecting the 2500-year-old culture of the Sri Lankan people

8. A state which would look after the children, the youth and the family that forms the foundation of the society.
The family is the foundation of the human society. Human beings begin to acquire experience as youth. The stability of family leads to strengthening the child mentally and physically. A strong child means a strong adult in future. Implementing a program to strengthen children, younger generation and the family unit as an investment for future.

9. A State that would build an ideal society on the foundation of a new political culture.
It is imperative to build a society of ideal citizens nurtured in a political culture, who are sensitive to both democratic rights and obligations to the society, as a prerequisite for ushering in a Representative Democracy which truly reflects the aspirations of the people. It is the bounden duty of the State to ensure good governance. Ensuring the election of a people’s representative who is required to respect the rule of the law, and is transparent in all his actions and accountable to people as a product of the new political culture and producing a rational citizen who would live with dignity and in happiness and prosperity.

10. A proud State which can win the world.
Bringing into being a sovereign State which would march forward with dignity and pride, shoulder to shoulder with the advancing world. Building a foreign policy stamped with our national identity within the global village.

A long cherished dream of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and SLFP (M) leader Mangala Samaraweera came true when the much publicised joint opposition alliance baptised as the United National Front (UNF) was formally launched last week. The leaders of the constituent political parties signed an agreement to mark the heralding of the new political combine at a ceremony held in a Committee Room in the parliamentary complex.

The signatories to this document were UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem, Democratic People’s Front leader Mano Ganesan, SLFP (M) leader Mangala Samaraweera, Jatika Sanwardhana Peramuna leader Achala Asoka Suraweera, Nava Sihala Urumaya leader Sarath Manamendra, Democratic National Front leader Ariyawansa Dissanayake, Ruhunu Janatha party leader Ajantha Zoysa, Janatha Vimukti Sahayogita Peramuna leader Ruwan Ferdinandus, Eksath Jatika Sandhanaya leader Sharmila Perera, and Jatika Vidvad Sabha leader Oliver Abeynayake.

Of the 12 constituent parties, only four of them are represented in Parliament. They are: UNP, SLMC, DPF and the SLFP (M). None of the other eight parties is represented even in a Pradeshiya Sabha in the country. There is not a single big political name among the leaders of these eight parties: nor is there a person among them capable of commanding some measure of leadership even at the grassroots level let alone at the national level.

Ruwan Ferdinandus of the Jatika Peramuna, a signatory to the agreement is known to be a political advisor to Mangala Samaraweera. He is also an organiser of the SLFP (M). Nava Sihala Urumaya leader Sarath Manamendra and Padmasiri Samaratunga of Jatika Vimukti Sahayogita Peramuna are close associates of Samaraweera. Ariyawansa Dissanayake of the Democratic National Front (DUNF) and Sharmila Perera of Eksat Jatika Sanvidhanaya were one-time activists of the DNF formed by the breakaway group of the UNP led by UNP dissidents Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith.Athulathmudali. Sharmila functioned as Lalith Athulathmudali’s private secretary when he was a Cabinet Minister. None of them had been in active politics in recent times.

Both SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem and Democratic People’s Front leader Mano Ganesan, two of the 12 signatories to the UNF agreement too have been long standing fellow-travellers of the UNP. In fact, they have already contested elections under the `elephant’ symbol. Jatika Vidwad Sabhawa, another constituent of the alliance is not a recognised political party either.

Mangala draws parallel with MEP in 1956

Speaking at the agreement signing ceremony, Mangala Samaraweera recalled how SLFP-founder- leader the late S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike led MEP formed with several political parties including the VLSSP of Philip Gunawardena and Bhasha Peramuna of Wijayananda Dahanayake to a historic victory at the 1956 Parliamentary General elections. However, Philip Gunawardena and Wijayananda Dahanayake were political giants who commanded a national level standing at that time.

Even the LSSP, CP and SLMP which teamed up with the SLFP led by Ms. Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Chandrika Bandaranaike in 1994, were political parties which enjoyed an island wide acceptance. SLMP (Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya), though of recent origin was a political party founded by big names in politics such as Wijaya Kumaratunga, Chandrika Kumaratunga and T.B. Ilangaratne. However, eight of the 12 parties which have joined forces with the UNP under the UNF banner can claim neither such a glowing past nor wide acceptance as enjoyed by leftist political parties which had thrown in their lot with the SLFP to form political alliances in the past.

Why opposition political alliances formed in the past

Looking back, opposition political parties in our country have always formed political alliances when the popularity of the government in power was at its lowest ebb. The MEP could romp home at the 1956 Parliamentary General elections because Sir John Kotelawala who was the Prime Minister at the time had become very unpopular. The UNP being reduced to an eight-member presence in Parliament in 1956 bears testimony to this fact.

The People’s Alliance was formed in 1994 when the UNP was very weak and had outlived its popularity. The PA could record a landslide because people wanted to end the 17-year-rule of the UNP.

A different situation today

However, the situation in the country today is quite different from what was obtained in 1956 or 1994. The UPFA government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa is quite popular. The government has succeeded in retaining its popularity by its military victory over the LTTE and also by carrying out several mega development projects while prosecuting the war. People enjoying the dividends of peace and development have demonstrated their continued faith in the government at elections. True, people complain about the high cost of living and corruption in state sectors, but their faith in the government remains unshaken judging from the results at the recent PC polls.

There is another reason why the people continue to repose their faith in this government: There is no alternative for them to turn to, with the UNP fast losing ground in the country. People have lost their faith in the UNP due to the failure on the part of its government to provide any worthwhile relief to them during their 2001-2004 rule. Therefore, there is a big question mark over whether the United National Alliance which was got up last week could become an alternative to the Mahinda Rajapaksa government.
(An English translation of the Dasa Raja Pratipattiya document underpinning the agreement signed by the constituent parties of the UNA is carried elsewhere on this page)

Surprise choice for UNF’s Gen. Secy’s post

Leaders of the constituents of the UNF had decided at their initial negotiations, to elect Ranil Wickremesinghe as the alliance leader and Tissa Attanayake as its General Secretary.
However, the UNP leader had nominated N.V.K.K.Weragoda for the post of General Secretary of the newly formed alliance at the UNP Working Committee meeting held at Sirikotha last Tuesday. According to party sources, Ravi Karunanayake too had aspired to be the UNF’s General Secretary and Ranil had taken the easy way out of the problem by nominating a third party overlooking the two main contenders. A former General Secretary of the UNP, Weragoda, however, is now abroad and the party leader had nominated Joe Rajakaruna, an Attorney -at- law to function as the Acting General Secretary Tissa Attanayake is said to be highly disappointed over this last minute decision to ditch him. UNP inside sources say that Tissa was dropped to make way for Mangala Samaraweera to function as the de facto Secretary General.

Why Tissa was ditched

Mangala wants to use either the `pot’ or the `swan’ as the symbol of the UNF, as he feels that the `elephant’ symbol is an obstacle to attracting supporters of the SLFP and other progressive parties to the UNF. He thinks that Tissa, a protagonist of the `elephant’ symbol would not allow jettisoning the `elephant’ symbol as long as he remains as the UNF’s Secretary General, say UNP insiders.

UNP’s National organiser S.B.Dissanayake and the party’s up and coming young strongman Sajith Premadasa were conspicuous by their absence at the UNF inauguration last Tuesday. However, the party’s rebel group including Lakshman Seneviratne and Johnston Fernando who opposed the proposed alliance from the very inception were present at the Tuesday’s ceremony.
Meanwhile, the UNF leaders have made arrangements to travel to Kandy in a motorcade to pay homage to Sri Dalada and obtain blessings for the UNF.

Tamil- Muslim alliance on the rocks?

SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem during the past few weeks, played a very active role in conducting negotiations aimed at forming a political combine of Tamil speaking Tamil and Muslim political parties. In fact, his Kollupitiya residence served as the venue for holding several rounds of negotiations. The leaders of the six constituent parties of the proposed alliance SLMC, TNA, TELO, EPRLF( Sritharan group), ACTC, and the TULF had decided to make a formal announcement about the launching of the proposed alliance after another round of negotiations to be held at Renuka hotel, Kollupitiya.

Hakeem’s joining the UNF last week has now left the future of the Tamil-Muslim alliance in the balance. Undeterred, some Tamil political parties are now busy conducting negotiations with a view to forming a Tamil party alliance.

“We are now planning to merge Tamil political parties with the Tamil National Alliance and re-register the latter as a new political party. A Constitution for the new party is also being drafted,” TNA MP N. Sri Kantha said. The TNA as it is now, comprises the TELO, EPRLF (Sritharan group), All Ceylon Tamil Congress and a section of the TULF.
According to TNA Parliamentarian N.Sri Kantha, negotiations are now underway to enlist the TULF led by V. Anandasangaree and EPRLF (Padmanabha group) as constituents of the proposed alliance.” We have already received positive responses from PLOTE leader D.Siddharthan and TULF leader Anandasangaree,” Sri Kantha said.
They are planning to rally round the new alliance, the Tamil youth, academics, professionals and the masses now distanced from politics.

Nandana Gunatillake and Kamal Deshapriya quit NFF

General Secretary of National Freedom Front Tourism Minister Nandana Gunatillake and the Front’s National Organiser Kamal Deshapriya Mannapperuma, last Thursday informed the Elections Commissioner that they were resigning from the offices they were holding in the party. Minister Gunatillake has informed in his letter that he was resigning not only from the post of General Secretary, but also from the membership of the Politburo and the Central Committee.

The fact that both Minister Gunatillake and Kamal Deshapriya (who is functioning as Gunatillake’s private secretary) had sent in their resignation letters direct to the Elections Commissioner with no intimation to the party has become a moot point in the political circles now.
Despite his resignation from the party, Minister Gunatillake will continue to function as a Cabinet minister. According to NFF sources, Minister Gunatillake for sometime had been unhappy over the manner in which the affairs of the party were being conducted. They say that he had not visited the NFF Head office in Battaramulla for over three months.

Sources close to Gunatillake and Kamal Deshapriya say that their deep disappointment with the arbitrary manner in which party leader Wimal Weerawansa was running the affairs of the party had led to their resignation. The feud had taken a turn for the worse, at the time the party was nominating party candidates for the Kalutara District at the WPC elections. Minister Gunatillake had proposed that Priyantha Bellana be fielded on the UPFA list for the Kalutara District. However, Wimal Weerawansa had used his clout in the party to field tele-drama actor Lal Kularatne instead. Bellana had later been fielded on the Galle District list at the subsequent Southern PC elections and had lost as he had no vote base there.

Nandana Gunatillake had become thoroughly disillusioned when he found that Wimal Weerawansa was always using his clout to prevent Gunatillake’s nominees from being given an opportunity to contest any election. A disappointed Gunatillake had boycotted five recent meetings of the party’s Politbureau.

Gunatillake’s advent to politics

Nandana who was a frontline leader of the JVP when it re-entered national politics after the 1988-89 insurrection, contested the 1999 Presidential Poll on the JVP ticket. He was the founder-chairman of the UPFA. He quit the JVP when the party decided to leave the alliance and sit with the opposition. Thereafter he functioned as an independent MP in Parliament. Nandana Gunatillake and Kamal Deshapriya joined the National Freedom Front when it was formed by Wimal Weerawansa and 10 other party MPs upon their defection from the JVP.
Nandana Gunatillake is expected to join the SLFP and contest the upcoming General parliamentary elections on UPFA’s Kalutara district list.

Milinda Moragoda to form new political party?

Meanwhile, Justice and Legal Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda is planning to form a new political party while remaining in the government coalition. Former UNP Minister and strongman Sirisena Cooray is to be the Chairman and R.A.D. Sirisena of the UNP Democratic group, the General Secretary of this political party which has been named as `Jatika Sangamaya’.
Minister Moragoda has said that the main objective of his party is to restore the national unity and political co-existence that characterised the Sri Lankan society at the time the country gained national independence. Moragoda has reportedly already held a series of discussions with religious leaders in the country in this connection.