youth to the fore
all political parties busy finalising their nomination lists that
would be handed over by Tuesday (24), parties are coming with
attractive nomination lists to lure a poll weary electorate.
ruling United National Front (UNF) as in 2001 is keen to field
more young persons this time as well. According to party spokesman
Gayantha Karunathilleke, the party is keen to accommodate persons
below 35 years of age fulfilling a commitment to creating more
room for youngsters at the decision making level.
also fell on women nominees, though Karunathilleke observed that
there was reluctance on the part of women to enter politics due to
the conditions that prevail.
was originally stated that popular singer Rukantha Gunathilleke
would contest from his hometown Kegalle and Deshamanya Lalith
Kotelawala from Dodangaslanda, in Kurunegala. But the names were
UNF would also accommodate some of the PA members who are crossing
over to the side including former deputy minister Athula
Nimalasiri Jayasinghe who will contest from Mahara. To accommodate
him, current Mahara organiser Ravindra Randeniya has been pledged
a slot on the UNF national list. Similarly, Prof. G. L. Peiris and
Tilak Marapone too will be on the national list.
attracts more artistes
PA-JVP collective, the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) too
is adding the final touches to its nomination lists with the
inclusion of some surprises.
Nilame of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, Shalitha Lakshman
Wijesundara is seen as the most unlikely candidate to contest
polls on the UPFA ticket. Wijesundara, the nephew of UNP strongman
and tycoon, late Upali Wijewardene and son of former Colombo
University Vice Chancellor, Stanley Wijesundara, who was gunned
down by the JVP, recently switched loyalties to contest on the
UPFA ticket from Biyagama, the former electorate of Premier Ranil
Tamil political arena is also fast changing with most Tamil
parties aligning themselves with the TNA. With many accusations
being levelled against the TNA as a mere front for the LTTE that
refuses to tolerate moderate opinion and senior Tamil politicians,
the TNA's selection of candidates has aroused much interest.
parties at a deadlock
spotlight fell on the turmoil within when at a crucial meeting of
the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) last Wednesday to decide
on candidates ended inconclusively after party President V.
Anandasangaree marched out in protest, voicing serious opposition
to the nominations. Anandasangaree has reportedly refused to
accept a common nomination list of candidates from all constituent
parties of the TNA, TULF sources said.
said that out of the 12 nominees, six were pro- LTTE persons.
ACTC's A. Vinayagamoorthy brushed aside allegations that the TNA
was being manipulated by the LTTE. He said the candidates were
members of NGOs, social workers, university lecturers, student
union leaders, voluntary organisation leaders, corporate sector
TULF Leader V. Anandasangaree has not been given nomination, a
decision that has been dubbed as 'imprudent' to leave out one of
the senior-most Tamil politicians in the country at the behest of
TELO Member V. Adaikkalanathan stated that the allegations were
false and that the TELO nominations have been accepted sans any
the denials of any LTTE involvement, the Tigers have taken a keen
interest in the forthcoming elections.
The LTTE's Political Wing leader, S. P. Tamilselvan met the
Upcountry People's Front (UPF) leader P. Chandrasekaran and
discussed the creation of a grand Tamil alliance.
went on record stating that they would unite all Tamil political
forces to represent the community.
a fresh move, Tamilselvan has also met UNF Member Mano Ganesan to
pledge their support for the Colombo candidate's electoral
a defiant note, the EPDP has decided to support the UPFA and is
determined to emerge as the true alternative to the LTTE and the
Tamil political parties that are manipulated by the Liberation
Tigers. A spokesman for the party claimed that the TNA was just a
front for the LTTE and the LTTE's latest moves were not new
tactics. "That's what happens to people who try to hang on to
the Tiger's tail," he said, claiming that the EPDP was the
only independent Tamil political party.
unnecessary election - clergy
President Chandrika Kumaratunga dissolving parliament and calling
for snap polls, the thinking amongst the country's clergy seems to
be that the April 2 elections could have been avoided if
politicians put the country before political interest.
to priests from Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu faiths, if
the PA and UNF had worked together to find a solution to the
ethnic conflict, there would not have been a need for a costly and
unnecessary election at a time when the country could least afford
on the recent dissolution, Anunayaka of the Asgiri Chapter, Ven.
Dalagama Aththadassi Thero said that he had little or no
appreciation for politics, particularly the kind that is being
witnessed in Sri Lanka.
believe that instead of having an election, President Kumaratunga
and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe should have worked
together and ruled the country together as they were mandated to
do. I'm not saying this because an election is round the corner. I
have always believed that the President and Prime Minister should
have worked together. That is the most effective way to settle the
ethnic issue - consensus between the two main political forces in
the country," said the Anunayake Thero.
his views Anglican Bishop of Colombo, Rev. Duleep de Chickera said
the dissolution of parliament came as a surprise to many.
"Three immediate concerns are visiting us due to it. It has
affected the peace and developmental process, the non-activation
of the Elections Commission and the tremendous cost we would incur
due to the general election. All political parties must give
priority to and declare their stance on peace and development
clearly. Since the functioning of the Elections Commission is
crucial at the time of a national election, the current deadlock
must be resolved. Party and individual campaigning must attempt to
minimise costs," Bishop Chickera said.
went on to say that in hindsight this provided an opportunity for
political parties and leaders to review their manifestos in terms
of new lessons learnt, and for the people to evaluate their
performance in the face of serious allegations of corruption,
indifference and incompetence. "Now that we have an election
on the cards, we hope that this would be a pragmatic way out of
the current political impasse," he explained.
Bishop said, while there is a relative calm at present, the
country's recent poll experiences suggested the possibility of
intimidation and violence. The authorities, political leaders and
civil society should collaborate to ensure a free, fair and
violence free election which called for vigilance, monitoring and
prompt remedial action.
Bishop went on to say that it is his prayer that our common
yearning and journey towards justice, reconciliation and peace
will be sustained.
of the Colombo Grand Mosque, Seyed Kalleel Moulana told The Sunday
Leader that his fervent wish was to keep away from politics and
politicians from the mosque.
majority of people in the country are not happy with the present
UNF government. The cost of living is very high and there are so
many problems in the country," he said.
regard to the peace process, Kalleel Moulana said, the decisions
taken by the UNF government were not good. "It is true that
the Prime Minister was having talks with the LTTE to negotiate
peace. But his motives later became questionable as the LTTE took
the upper hand. The UNF government is only play-acting with regard
to the peace process," explained Moulana.
to him, now that the President has dissolved parliament, he was
hopeful of a change that would benefit the country.
the chief priest of the Thiru Arulmihu Sivasubramania Swami Kovil,
Swami Sivalal Kuruppu said that it did not matter which party came
into power as long as there would be no war. "President
Kumaratunga's government has driven a wedge between the two
communities. I believe in a government that would grant equal
rights to all communities," he said.
to Swami Kuruppu, the election would have not been necessary if
the two main political parties had the commitment to work out
their differences in the larger interest of the public. "The
election could have been avoided and should have been avoided.
This is not going to solve anything except aggravate the situation
and divide the people further. I pray that the war would not
recommence," Swami Kuruppu added.
promises and more promises
elections just around the corner, political parties are preparing
for their respective election campaigns. Hand in hand with the
preparations come attractive promises of a better tomorrow for the
people in the event these parties are voted into power.
to Western Province Governor,
Alavi Moulana, the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA)
is committed to taking forward the peace process. In addition,
Moulana said the party would concentrate on labour reforms, reduce
the high cost of living that is prevalent, weed out corruption,
minimise waste and give the public sector the salary hike they
to The Sunday Leader, Moulana noted that the most contentious
issue before this nation was that of peace making and UPFA too
would give it top priority and also continue with the peace
was President Chandrika Kumaratunga who introduced Norway into the
peace process. Hence, if the UPFA comes into power once more, we
will continue with the peace process and are certain that the
Norwegians would play a supportive role," Moulana asserted.
key aspect of our pledges would be the security we intend offering
the working class. We are going to look into the demands of all
workers because when the UNF was in power, only the privileged
class received attention. The workers who toiled to make this
economy work are a deprived lot. If the UPFA comes into power, the
party will be able to rectify this situation," noted Moulana.
about wage increases, Moulana said, "The UNF government had
promised to increase salaries by Rs. 5,000 whereas the actual
increase was a mere Rs.1,250. When the PA was in power despite a
continuing war at that time, we managed to increase the wages of
all workers by Rs. 2,250," he claimed.
charged that the UNF had no right to ask for votes from the Muslim
community, after the Prime Minister sought US guidance on his
policy and programmes.
United States completely destroyed Iraq even after it was proven
that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. A Premier guided by
the US is the last thing the Muslim community deserves and
desires," he noted.
to The Sunday Leader, Lands Minister, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne
reiterated the UNF government's commitment to the same promises
made during the 2001 elections.
will continue with those promises and will try to further improve
the economy. We also promise to restore peace in the country and
we are proud to say that except for the UNF, no party was able to
stop the 20 year-old war through a truce that worked. The hallmark
of the UNF regime has been the halting of ethnic bloodshed that
has so far claimed over 60,000 innocent lives," the Minister
said the UNF would this time around have better plans to provide
more employment and to control and provide more relief by reducing
the cost of living.
added that if the UNF were elected, the economy would be
strengthened due to foreign funds and aid that would come into the
National Alliance officials declined to comment, stating that they
would do so only after the election manifesto was released.
to The Sunday Leader, General Secretary, Democratic Left Alliance,
Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that they would support the peace
process and oppose racism and militarism.
said that his alliance would fight for social and economic justice
and oppose the neo-liberal economics.
will also insist on democratisation of the state and society while
being vigilant against the conspiracies to subvert
democracy," said Nanayakkara.
left alliance will campaign for freeing the country from
domination by foreign powers "with international solidarity
against imperialist globalisation."