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Opposition comes together to end 'Rajapaksa regime'

(NIDAHASA News) Common opposition candidate Maithipala Sirisena came into official agreements with number of major opposition groups on the reformations he have promise to bring after coming into power.

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(NIDAHASA News) Common opposition candidate Maithipala Sirisena came into official agreements with number of major opposition groups on the reformations he have promise to bring after coming into power.

Sirisena paid the cash deposit to the election office yesterday, to run under New Democratic Front's swan symbol, after being officially endorsed by the alliance of opposition parties and groups.

Stepping down as the General Secretary of President Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka freedom Party (SLFP), Sirisena vowed to reverse his former boss's constitutional amendments, and to abolish the executive presidential system, which were criticized by opposition parties as a recipe for a constitutional dictatorship.

Ranil, Chandrika and Maithripala after signing the pact at Viharamahadevi Park (Photo: Shehan Gunasekara/ DailyFT)

The well-seasoned lawmaker from Sri Lanka's agricultural headland of Polonnaruwa will be backed by a wide coalition of around 36 opposition groups including the main opposition United National Party (UNP), to defeat what they called 'Rajapaksa Regime' and change country's highly corrupted political system.

“Another term for President Rajapaksa will mean the end of democracy, the end of the multi-party system,” official leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said after signing the pact.

“We will create a new society, one without poverty and unemployment,” Wickremesinghe pledged.

Chandrika Kumaratunga, Rajapksaka's predecessor both as party head and county's president, endorsed her former minister as a man with “vision”.

“I have worked with him for many years. Before that he has worked with my mother and my brother Anura. This man is no thief or murderer. He is a man with vision and a political philosophy,” she said urged her party-men to join the Opposition cause to scrap the presidential system.

Kumaratunga came to power in 1994 with the promise of scrapping executive presidency, but failed to do so in her two terms.

“I just never managed to get numbers in Parliament to pass the draft Constitution. We needed 2/3 majority,” she defended herself.

Former Army Chief Sarath Fonseka said he had been very happy when Maithripala Sirisena had been named the common opposition candidate.

“I have faith in him,” the former General said.

Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero who pioneered the constitutional reformation movement hoped that Sirisena will “open the door to democracy.”

“This time we will not be mere spectators in this process. We are not supporting your candidacy to simply stand aside and watch a drama unfold. We will continue this agitation until all these pledges are fulfilled and this system is abolished,” Sobitha said.

JHU also announced their support for Maithripala Sirisena (Photo: Dinouk Colombage)

Meanwhile Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), which broke away from the government last month, also signed a separate 10-point pact yesterday (02) with Maithipala Sirisena.

JHU General Secretary said their pact is fundamentally similar to the one signed by other parties a day prior.

“Our agreement focuses on a brief political agenda for the first 100 days of Maithripala’s presidency, while the pact pioneer by Sobitha Thero is a long term one,” the former minister explained.

The pledge also includes a provision to protect President Rajapaksa and his family and any security forces personnel from being taken before an international war crimes tribunal, Ranawaka said.

Addressing the press after signing the pacts, Sirisena promised that transparency would be a cornerstone of this election campaign from the very beginning.

“There will be no secret election agreements,” he said adding all pre-election pacts he signs with political parties and groups will be transparent and freely available to the public.

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Political

Sri Lanka should accept democratic values; ex-president says

(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's ex president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga says that the government and people should uphold democratic values in order to protect the country from international interference.

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(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's ex president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga says that the government and people should uphold democratic values in order to protect the country from international interference.

“If Sri Lanka wants to save itself in Geneva, the Sri Lankan Government and its people have to conduct themselves in accordance with universally accepted democratic norms and standards. They will save themselves automatically if they do this. That is how we can help them,” Kumaratunga told media soon after her meeting with Leader of Opposition Ranil Wikramasinghe at his office yesterday (11).

The focus of discussion was on her recent initiative on religious harmony in the country. However, no political matters were discussed in the meeting with Opposition Leader, Kumaratunga said.

In recent months, Chandrika was working with South Asian Policy & Research Institute (SAPRI) to promote religious harmony. SAPRI is a non-government think tank where religious leaders and intellectuals came together to work on recommendations for achieving religious harmony in Sri Lanka.

Kumaratunga said she has also sought a similar meeting with President Mahinda Rajapakse but was to receive a response.

“I am grateful to the UNP (United National Party) leader for giving us time for the discussion. We have received responses from some government ministers who are willing to meet us. We will later brief the public on the importance of interfaith coexistence and how this will help the country,” she said.

She noted that it was important that the issue of attacks of religious minorities figured in a draft resolution on Sri Lanka presented to the UN Human Rights Council currently meeting in Geneva.

“It is important, yes…because whether it is the U.S. or any [other] country is not important. What is important is that it has been presented to the United Nations organisations and its relevant authorities.” she said.

Meanwhile Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said his party would support Kumaratunga and SAPRI in its efforts to create unity among all religions in Sri Lanka.

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Political

National unity govt sworn in; opposition leader from TNA

(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's new cabinet sworn in today (04), forming the first ever national unity government in country's 67 year old parliamentary history. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) became the main opposition party, making an ethnic Tamil the opposition leader after 32 years.

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(NIDAHASA News) Sri Lanka's new cabinet sworn in today (04), forming the first ever national unity government in country's 67 year old parliamentary history. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) became the main opposition party, making an ethnic Tamil the opposition leader after 32 years.

The new government led by Prime minister Ranil Wickramesinghe includes ministers from both main political parties. 43 ministers today took oath before the president; few more to sworn in in coming days.

Following the parileament election, leader of United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) President Maithripala Sirisena and United National Party (UNP) leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe came to an agreement to govern together for at least two years. Their aim will be to face together war crimes allegations originating from the decades-long civil war that ended six years ago and to secure enough votes in Parliament to adopt a new constitution with political reforms and power sharing with ethnic minority Tamils.

As two main parties form the government together, TNA, the third-largest force with 16 seats in the 225-member assembly becomes the main opposition party.

R. Sampanthan is the first parliamentarian from the ethnic minority to lead the opposition since 1983, when Tamil legislators resigned en masse to protest against a statute that compelled them to denounce separatism.

A small breakaway faction of UPFA which still remain loyal to former president, MP Mahinda Rajapaka chosen to remain in opposition. They opposed Sampanthan’s appointment, arguing they should lead the opposition. However Speaker Karu Jayasuriya dismissed their claim, as he did not receive such request from UPFA leadership.

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Political

UNP wins election; Voters say no to Rajapaksa's comeback bid

(NIDAHASA News) Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) secured majority in yesterday's (17) parliament poll, ending former President Rajapaksa's comeback dream.

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(NIDAHASA News) Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) secured majority in yesterday's (17) parliament poll, ending former President Rajapaksa's comeback dream.

“A majority has mandated to continue the Jan. 8 revolution,” Ranil Wickremesinghe said in an statement, a referring to the presidential election earlier this year that ended Rajapaksa's decade-long regime.

UNP secured 106 out of 225 seats in the parliament; Rajapaksa's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) got 95 seats while left-wing People's Liberation Front (JVP) securing 6. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) alias ITAK got 16 seats.

However UNP will have to seek support from other parties to form a majority government with 113 seats in hand.

The first election to hold after fall of Rajapaksa regime, which was accused of heavily abusing their power, this was seen as the most peaceful election in recent history.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, who lost January's snap presidential poll to once his minister Mathiripala Sirisena, was hoping to comeback as the Prime Minister. Sirisena was force to grand nominations to former president due to the pressure inside the party, but openly stated his disgust over Rajapaksa's return.

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