SLFP (M) wing leader Mangala Samaraweera dissolved his small party and today joined the main opposition UNP. MP Samaraweera, his central committee and district representatives have all now joined the UNP.
Samaraweera was once a key adviser to President Mahinda Rajapaksa during the 2005 Presidential election. He served as Foreign Minister from 2005 until he was sacked in 2007.
He comes from a longtime SLFP family, his father having served in Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s cabinet and himself serving as the SLFP organizer for Matara since 1983 and entering Parliament in 1989. A confidant of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, he served as Minister of Ports and Telecommunications, Minister of Urban Development and Deputy Minister of Finance in her government.
After the end of Kumaratunga’s term, Mangala went on to serve current President Mahinda Rajapaksa until a falling out saw him, Anura Bandaranaike, and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi sacked from their posts. In response, Samaraweera formed the SLFP (Mahajana) wing rather than separate entirely from the party. After Sooriyarachchi was killed in a high-speed car crash in February 2008, however, that small splinter group became less and less relevant.
Samaraweera supported (Rtd) General Sarath Fonseka in the last Presidential election, joining a loose UNP/JVP coalition opposing Mahinda Rajapaksa. They lost in that effort and the General was soon arrested for political activities while in office, among other charges.
Samaraweera has now come full circle by joining the UNP, committing wholly to the opposition and leaving his family party. It is reported that he will now become the UNP electoral organizer for Matara.