to the split in government
Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe recently
made a statement that the government,
which was trying to ensure that the
UNP was down with the flu, has now
contracted the chikungunya virus.
likening the government's ailments to
chikungunya, Wickremesinghe only showed
the gravity of the crisis brewing within
the government, which in a few days could
result in a huge split within the
government's rank and file.
that took place on Friday, February 9,
brought into the open the clashes within
the government, which until then were
taking place behind the scenes.
President's decision to oust Mangala
Samaraweera, Anura Bandaranaike and
Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi from their
portfolios brought into the open the split
within the government.
Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake who
approached Bandaranaike in parliament
before he was to make a speech advised him
not to go ahead with the speech.
"Don't make the speech. If you do so,
there are chances of you losing your
portfolio," he said.
Bandaranaike responded, "I don't need
his portfolio. He has already hit us. I
will make this speech."
therefore made the speech ready to face
following day Sooriyaarachchi heard the
news of the President's move to appoint a
new organiser for the SLFP Kelaniya
electorate. This led Sooriyaarachchi and
Samaraweera to believe that the President
was preparing to make a political move.
Thursday (8), Samaraweera left for
Singapore on a personal visit.
was Sooriyaarachchi who first heard the
news of the trio being sacked from their
portfolios. He heard the news even before
the letters sacking them were ordered to
immediately informed Samaraweera in
Singapore and Bandaranaike of the
President's move. Upon hearing the news,
Samaraweera had told Sooriyaarachchi that
since the President had the right to make
any decision that pleased him, there was
no need to be overly worried about it.
Bandaranaike's response to it was rather
different. "I don't believe it.
Mahinda is never a man who can make a
decision alone. This can never be,"
that as it may, the first letter sacking
the trio reached Bandaranaike at Visumpaya
around 5 p.m. The letters then reached
Samaraweera's and Sooriyaarachchi's
immediately called Samaraweera in
Singapore and informed him that letters
sacking them from their portfolios signed
by the President had been delivered to
their residences. He also informed
Samaraweera that the SLFP Executive
Committee was summoned for a meeting at
Temple Trees the following day.
advised Sooriyaara-chchi that the
President was exercising his powers and
that irrespective of this; they should
carry on with their political battle.
the time Sooriyaarachchi got through to
Bandaranaike, he had already given
interviews to weekend newspapers.
inquired from Bandaranaike the nature of
the statements he had made to the media.
Bandaranaike said that he made statements
against the President and the government.
Samaraweera celebrated the news in style.
Hearing the news that he was sacked by the
President whom he was instrumental in
bringing into power, Samaraweera got down
a special bottle of champagne and
celebrated with his friends until late.
and Samaraweera's confidants, who were
updating him of the latest developments in
Colombo, got the feeling that Samaraweera
was in fact celebrating the news. Upon
being questioned on the matter,
Samaraweera said that he was celebrating
and advised them also to follow suit, as
this was good news for him.
President who sacked the Ministers by 5
p.m. directed the Defence Ministry by 7
p.m. to withdraw their security personnel
and ordered the ministry secretaries to
immediately recall the official vehicles
and the staff given to each minister.
orders of the President, security
personnel attached to the Ports Authority
surrounded an official residence belonging
to the Authority down Bullers Road,
Saturday morning. The house was considered
an important place, as it was the
headquarters used by Samaraweera during
the last presidential election to carry
out Rajapakse's campaign.
Coordinating Secretary, Ruwan Ferdinands
was in charge of this residence then and
it was here that all the campaigns against
the UNP and its Leader Wickremesinghe were
the last presidential election, the UNP
wrote to the IGP on several occasions
requesting him to take over this residence
down Bullers Road citing that the
residence was being used illegally to
support President Mahinda Rajapakse's
Road house issue
after the presidential election the house
was abandoned, but it was Presidential
Advisor Dulles Alahapperuma who reminded
the President of this house. He pointed
out that since Ferdinands used the
residence as the campaign headquarters
during the election, they would be able to
find secret documents that could be held
against Samaraweera if the house was
the presidential election, over 102 public
servants worked around the clock
tirelessly at this venue to ensure
Rajapakse's victory. Alahapperuma who
visited the house once during the election
had even praised the workers there.
workers requested Alahapperuma to ensure
that they would be paid their relevant
salaries from the institutions they were
assigned to even though they were at the
time engaged in election propaganda work.
immediately told Ferdinands, "Machang,
we have to do the right thing by these
people as soon as we win. You make a list,
we will do it."
won the election and Ferdinands sent the
list of 102 names to Alahapperuma to get
what they were entitled to, but what
happened was quite to the contrary.
102 persons were identified as Samaraweera
supporters and were continuously attacked.
This was the beginning of the cold war
between Samaraweera and Rajapakse.
was in this backdrop that Alahapperuma
ordered the Bullers Road house to be
raided. The SLPA security personnel who
surrounded the house asked the official
present where Ferdinands was. The security
personnel were informed that Ferdinands
had not sighted the house after the
the security personnel who entered the
house a while later saw posters of
Rajapakse printed during the last
presidential election pasted on every wall
and they also witnessed that the house had
not been cleaned in a while. The security
personnel informed the higher authorities
of their find.
attention was then focused on
Samaraweera's arrival in the island. Many
were curious about what Samaraweera would
say following his sacking.
supporters from the Matara District were
angered by the President's move and they
raised black flags in the town on Friday
night. These supporters made various
proposals to Sooriyaarachchi and
Samaraweera's secretaries - "Sir,
let's start a fast unto death. Let's have
a protest march to Colombo."
who was in Singapore said that he did not
expect the SLFP supporters to launch any
fast unto death campaigns and protest
marches right now.
one point, Samaraweera told
Sooriyaarachchi over the phone,
"These people are acting like they
have gone insane. Tell our people not to
create any trouble. If they do so they
will be attacked regardless of the fact
that they are SLFPers. Then our people
will get hammered by our own government.
So don't allow them to do anything
the day Samaraweera reached the island, a
large number of SLFPers were at the
airport to greet him.
this news earlier, orders were sent to the
security personnel from above asking them
to prevent the SLFPers from reaching the
airport. However, due to the large crowd
that gathered, the security personnel were
unable to control them.
was greeted by the crowds near the
Katunayake milepost. The security
personnel around had to finally force
Samaraweera into the vehicle.
who was on his way to his official
residence at Stanmore Crescent had to
undergo a different kind of experience at
the Bauddhaloka Mawatha security post.
gates that are usually opened for
Samaraweera's vehicle to pass through on
other days did not open that day. The
security forces personnel at the post
stopped the vehicle and told Samaraweera,
"Sir, there is nothing we can do. We
are sorry. Orders have been sent from
above to permit only you and your close
family members into your house. We have
been ordered not to send anyone else
questioned as to how such a thing could
happen. "So does that mean I am under
house arrest?" Samaraweera asked.
don't know sir. We just told you the order
that was sent to us. We do not like doing
this," the security personnel said.
then inquired as to who had made the
order. The response made him realise that
the order was made by a highly placed
official in the Defence Ministry.
then shouted, "This government was
brought to power by Minister Mangala. It
was he who made Mahinda the president. Are
they now attacking this very same
Samaraweera decided not to make an issue
of it and made his way to his residence
with his family members. At home,
Samaraweera received an emotional welcome
from his mother.
security personnel had already been
removed by then. Many who made their way
to Samaraweera's residence were turned
away at the security posts saying they did
not have permission to proceed. By evening
news was out that Samaraweera was
unofficially under house arrest.
order to know the real situation, JVP
Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake
called Ferdinands and Sooriyaarachchi and
was informed that it seemed as if
Samaraweera was indeed under house arrest.
can that be? Has the government fallen so
low as to keep Mangala under house arrest?
Okay, we will see. I'm coming at 8 p.m.
You also come," Dissanayake said.
8 p.m. Dissanayake made his way to the
security post. The security personnel gave
their usual speech, but Dissanayake did
not turn away.
continued to argue with the security
personnel and it was witnessed by everyone
present. Orders were immediately sent from
higher authorities to allow him to pass
through. Dissanayake, Sooriyaarachchi and
the crowd then made their way to
do you think of Mahinda Rajapakse's
work?" Samaraweera asked Dissanayake
while welcoming him into the house.
is something we should be asking
you," Dissanayake said.
is that?" questioned Samaraweera.
do you ask that? It was you Sripathi and
Ruwan who asked us to help Mahinda win.
You asked us to work for Mahinda. Didn't
you know that Mahinda Rajapakse was a man
who did not know the meaning of the word
gratitude?" Dissanayake said, and
Samaraweera could only smile in agreement.
then on until about 1:30 a.m., Samaraweera,
Sooriyaarachchi and Dissanayake were
engaged in discussion.
Mahinda Rajapakse made this decision on
Friday, our party also decided that we
could no longer go ahead with him. We have
decided that Mahinda is now going on the
wrong path. We took several decisions. The
party asked me to meet with you. It is my
duty to inform you of the decisions,"
thereon, the conversation was a
politically decisive one.
JVP put in place its machinery and started
its first poster campaign against
Rajapakse Monday night. The first line on
the poster was, "Government on the
wrong track" and the posters said
that a massive rally where the JVP leaders
would address the nation would be held on
February 15 in Nugegoda.
Dulles plan to drum up media support
behind the SLFP Executive Committee
meeting, which was held soon after Anura
Bandaranaike, Mangala Samaraweera and
Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi were ousted from
their portfolios, have now surfaced.
Mahinda Rajapakse initially decided to
call the SLFP parliamentary group to brief
them on his decision soon after ousting
the ministers. However, Ministers
Maithripala Sirisena and Dulles
Alahapperuma advised the President against
explained that since they believed at
least 11 to 14 MPs were supportive of
Samaraweera, meeting first with the
parliamentary group soon after the move
would be unwise. Sirisena and Alahapperuma
told the President not to summon the
on the other hand believed that such a
move would help him identify the
Samaraweera supporters, which would help
his future course of action. Sirisena and
Alahapperuma insisted that such a move
would be quite dangerous.
then proposed that the newly elected SLFP
Executive Committee, which consists mostly
of members supportive of the President,
should be summoned first. Rajapakse also
then called the heads of the state run
media, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation
and ITN and asked them to collect
statements from parliamentarians against
Bandaranaike, Samaraweera and
Sooriyaarachchi by visiting their homes.
The President too agreed to this proposal.
both these state media institutions
experienced something unexpected. Most of
the parliamentarians refrained from making
any statements to the two media
institutions, leaving the head of ITN no
option but to call Alahapperuma and inform
him that most parliamentarians had refused
to make any statement against the ousted
met with the President to inform him of
this development. The duo then discussed
at length how best to address the
situation. The President told Alahapperuma
that it clearly indicated that most
parliamentarians were having secret
dealings with Samaraweera.
however said that regardless of the
situation, some action should be taken to
get some parliamentarians to make
statements against Samaraweera and the
rest even by force.
then came up with a brilliant proposal.
That was to hold the SLFP Executive
Committee meeting at Temple Trees and to
get ITN and Rupavahini to be stationed
with two camera crews outside the exit, so
that the MPs would be forced to make
statements soon after the meeting at
Temple Trees itself. Rajapakse agreed at
is good. Then they will make statements
out of fear. I too can come out
occasionally and have a look and see for
myself who would make statements and who
would avoid doing so. Write down the list
of names of those who avoid giving any
statement," the President said.
Alahapperuma immediately called the two
media institutions and informed them of
few minutes later, Sooriyaarachchi and
Samaraweera confidants learnt of the
President's plan to force statements out
of ministers at Temple Trees. Most
ministers were then informed to make
statements and pretend to be aligned with
the taped comments of the ministers
telecast on the state media institutions
may have misled the public, but the
President and Alahapperuma, the
masterminds behind the plan, would in the
next few weeks realise all is not well in
government. When parliament meets this
week, new alliances will be formed and new
trends will emerge and many changes are
likely to take place within the government
and opposition ranks.
defectors have ruined their political
vows to make Ranil, President
UNP Working Committee met last Thursday
evening at party headquarters, Sirikotha,
under the chairmanship of Party Leader
reading the agenda, the first matter to be
taken up were the letters of explanation
sent by the 18 UNP MPs who defected to the
government. Legal Secretary Daya Pelpola
presented the letters of 17 defectors sent
to the party, which were all written in
the same format.
Dissanayake however, stood out from the
rest of the 17 members as he decided to
send a different kind of letter to the
party. In his letter, Dissanayake had
advised Wickremesinghe on how to take the
with the defectors
other 17 defectors had not accepted the
party's decision to sack them from the
Working Committee, claiming they were
unaware of the party's authority to do so
and said the party had not given them an
opportunity for an explanation.
had also requested to know the reasons
behind the party's decision to sack them
from the Working Committee.
discussing the matter, the Working
Committee decided to send the defectors
letters outlining the reasons for the
party's decision to remove them from the
Working Committee. It was also decided to
allow them the opportunity to come before
the Working Committee to present their
explanations. Wickremesinghe agreed to the
B. Dissanayake then requested time to make
a statement. In his statement, Dissanayake
spoke of the party reforms, their
implementation so far and the party's
special convention planned for March.
commended Wickremesinghe for giving the
freedom to implement the party reforms and
pledged his support to the Party Leader in
the future. Dissanayake also pledged to
safeguard the Party Leader.
then made a proposal on behalf of
Wickremesinghe. Dissanayake observed that
Wickremesinghe should be made president by
mid next year.
then analysed the deteriorating situation
of the government. He observed that the
government could not continue with the war
adding that the country's economy had now
fallen into the doldrums.
18 who defected to the government now
regret making that decision. They fell
into a mess. They have no salvation. There
is no point talking about it. Now we have
to work with Party Leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe. I will give my fullest
support to make him president,"
was Lakshman Seneviratne who addressed the
gathering after Dissanayake. He commenced
his speech by leveling several allegations
charged that it was Dissanayake who
created the whole mess by bringing forward
party reforms. Seneviratne said that the
final result of the reforms was the
defection of 18 members to the government.
Alleging that Dissanayake had to bear the
responsibility for all these issues,
Seneviratne said that it was Dissanayake
who started to challenge the party
Abeywardena, Johnston Fernando, Renuka
Herath and Jayalath Jayawardena also
blamed Dissanayake for the issues faced by
the party. Jayawardena charged that
Dissanayake could not be trusted and
Herath charged that Dissanayake during his
days in the PA government constantly
harassed her supporters in the electorate.
who also found fault with Dissanayake
finally said that all differences had to
be cast aside as they had to now work
made a proposal to Dissanayake. He said
that if Dissanayake was genuinely
interested in developing the party, then
he should do so by putting aside all posts
first to speak on behalf of Dissanayake
was Opposition Leader, Uva Provincial
Council, Upali Samaraweera.
is everyone attacking one person? This is
a time when we all have to come together.
I thought all other issues were sorted,
but still there are problems. This effort
is to chase another set of members away
and not to work together," he said.
was Ravi Samaraweera who spoke next. He
recalled various incidents that took place
in the party since 1990. He spoke of the
period when Gamini Dissanayake was
appointed opposition leader and
Wickreme-singhe was defeated for the post.
He noted that Wickremesinghe at the time
operated from an office down Jawatte Road.
won't have any of these things if Gamini
was here today," Samaraweera said. In
an indirect manner he said that the party
would have been different if Gamini was
Kathiresan then said that it was time for
unity among party members and
Sarathchandra Rajakaruna endorsed the
then requested Dissanayake to make the
final points of his speech.
accept certain allegations. But I did not
start the reforms, I was in jail then, I
joined later on. I did not leave the party
even though I was not offered any
post," Dissanayake said.
John Amaratunga requested Dissanayake to
make the statement on oath. Dissanayake
said that he had made the statement on
previous occasions as well, but Amaratunga
said, "No, say it properly."
don't try to walk all over me,"
Dissanayake said angrily.
everyone prevented the issue from being
dragged any further.
then appointed the heads for the party's
district committees and appointed
Dissanayake as the national organiser.
Sarath Ranawaka was appointed as the
deputy national organiser.
first to wish Dissanayake were Ravi
Karunanayake and Sajith Premadasa.
security contingent of ousted
Minister Mangala Samaraweera was
withdrawn without any prior warning.
lost the foreign affairs portfolio
during the first cabinet reshuffle
of President Mahinda Rajapakse and
was reappointed to the ports and
constantly thought of his freedom of
movement because during his tenure
as foreign minister, he played a key
role in the fight against terrorism
in the international arena.
the work he has been carrying out in
the past few months, Samaraweera
realised that attention needed to be
paid to his security, prompting him
to write a letter to the IGP in his
capacity as Ports and Aviation
for more security
his official duties, Samaraweera
requested the IGP to increase the
number of police personnel deployed
in his cadre to ensure his safety.
what befell Samaraweera just a week
after sending the letter to the IGP
with regard to his security was
quite to the contrary.
after being ousted from his
portfolios, the government
immediately withdrew all his
security personnel, leaving him with
only two police constables.
is the letter sent by Samaraweera to
Ports and Aviation Minister
February 7, 2007
General of Police,
for the deployment of additional
the current political and security
situation in the country and being
the Ports and Aviation Minister and
the SLFP Treasurer, I have been
receiving the services of the VIP
security division for the past few
security and intelligence reports
have constantly been highlighting
the threat to my life following the
key role played by me during the
presidential campaign of President
Mahinda Rajapakse and my
international campaign carried out
these reports and recommendations,
His Excellency the President in
order to protect my personal
security took steps to increase the
number of security personnel
deployed to me.
I had to spend most of my time
overseas during my tenure as Foreign
Minister carrying out official work,
I had no time to travel to distant
places in Sri Lanka. Even at such
times, I believe that the security
personnel deployed to me were
I have decided to personally
supervise the development work
taking place in Trincomalee, Galle
and Oluvil apart from the work in
Colombo. Also, given the present
political situation, apart from the
LTTE, I have also become a target
for certain political elements.
to these considerations, I kindly
request you to increase the number
of security personnel deployed to
Ports and Aviation Minister
CC: Director, Ministerial Security