President Maithripala Sirisena who came to power last year with a good governance pledge, has fallen back on his promise once again after giving the gun trotting former Mayor of Hambantota Eraj Ravindra Fernando a top position in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
In 2014, armed with a pistol, Fernando led a gang of thugs to attack and chase several UNP Parliamentarians including Eran Wickramaratne, Ajith Manapperuma, Ajith P. Perera, Nalin Priyantha Bandara and R. Yogarajan when they were on a fact finding mission to inspect the port and airport in Hambantota, during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s term. The UNP MPs had obtained approval from the relevant officials before visiting the two sites; however they couldn’t complete their mission due to the attack on them, with Fernando also seen at the location wielding a pistol.
However, despite this thuggery behavior, President Sirisena has gone ahead and appointed Fernando, as the electoral organiser of the SLFP for Beliatta.
Apart from his stunt on the UNP MPs, Fernando has been arrested and remanded twice for committing various offences in 2014 and 2015.
In 2015, Fernando was arrested and remanded on charges that he attempted to obstruct the official duties of an officer in charge at the Ambalangoda Police Station by attempting to forcibly remove a suspect from police custody. Before that in 2014, Fernando was arrested in connection to an alleged attack on a group of opposition supporters at a bus halt in Hambantota.
The move by Sirisena to appoint a person with such a checkered history to the position of electoral organiser has surprised many in the political circles.
Today, President Sirisena appointed 40 new district and electoral organisers to the SLFP. Sirisena has removed Rajapaksa loyalists such as Keheliya Rambukwella, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Gamini Lokuge, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and C B Ratnayake as SLFP organisers and have instead appointed his loyalists in an effort to strengthen his hold within the party. (By Munza Mushtaq @ Colombo Telegraph)