A clear division within the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was made evident this afternoon when its MPs seperated into two groups of which one pledged support to new President Maithripala Sirisena and appointed him the party President whilst the other announced that it continues to hold defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the party President.
A group of 21 SLFP MPs to which included former Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama speaking at a press briefing this afternoon announced that in keeping with the party constitution, the SLFP Central Committee appointed President Sirisena as the party President.
This appointment is in adherence to the party constitution which states that the member who holds the senior-most government position should be appointed into leadership. Along with its new leadership, several other appointments had also been made to the party including MP Duminda Dissanayake as the Secretary, MP Janaka Bandara Tennakoon as the National Organiser and SB Nawinna as the Treasurer. Former Presidents Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa had been appointed as patrons of the party under instructions of President Sirisena.
“The Central Committee is vested with the power to decide upon the SLFP member who should be appointed as the President of the party. CC today decided that the SLFP member who emerged victorious in the election should be the President of the party,” said former Minister Faiszer Musthapha.
Among the others who pledged their support to President Sirisena includes Vijith Vijayamuni Zoysa, Piyasena Gamage, Reginold Cooray, Athauda Senviratne and Dayasiri Jayasekera.
Zoysa who addressed the media at the press briefing said, “We love our appachchi (father) and when we lost him, we cried. But just because we love him, doesn’t mean we would keep his corpse inside our house forever. . .”
Meanwhile, another group of SLFP MPs lead by Susil Premjayanatha and Nimal Siripala de Silva held a press breifing at the SLFP Headquarters today with the attendance of defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
They announced that the claims of the other group are false and that President Sirisena has not been appointed as the President of the party.
“It is evident by the number of MPs present here today that the majority support of the SLFP and the UPFA lies with Mahinda Rajapaksa. Count and see the number and you will see. . .Therefore, there has been no change in the leadership of the party,” former Minister Susil Premajayantha said.