President Maithripala Sirisena will have to lead the Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s campaign at the forthcoming polls to elect members to the local authorities, expected to take place at the end of the year, a SLFP source told Colombo Telegraph.
The above development comes in the wake of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who led the UPFA campaign in a loosing battle against the UNP at the last general election deciding to hand over the reigns to Sirisena.
A source close to Rajapaksa said that he has already conveyed this decision to Sirisena. This comes in the backdrop of several moves initiated by Sirisena to consolidate his power within the SLFP. However it is unclear which party Sirisena will lead, the SLFP or the coalition UPFA in which the SLFP is the major stakeholder. According to SLFP sources the party is most likely to pull out of the UPFA shortly.
Already the SLFP is divided with a majority supporting the national government mooted by Wickremesinghe and Sirisena and others joining the remnants of the UPFA led by Wimal Weerawansa, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Udaya Gammanpila, Kumara Welgama and Dinesh Gunawardena.
This UPFA remnant group is planning to be the major opposition in the new parliament which will sit for the first time tomorrow.
Also they are planning to propose Kumara Welgama, the Kalutara district parliamentarian as the opposition leader.
Earlier in the day the President had told some UPFA leaders that the opposition will be permitted to appoint its own leader in parliament. Earlier the SLFP CC decided that President as the head of the party could take a decision as to who will be the opposition leader.
Meanwhile UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella told media that the powers of appointing the opposition leader were vested with the speaker.
Also the TNA has thrown its hat in to the ring claiming that the opposition leaders post should be theirs for the taking as the SLFP already has signed a MoU with the UNP to set up a national government.
Rajapaksa has conveyed to the UPFA remnants that he will sit as a back bencher for a short period and resign from politics afterwards. However, according to a source close to the former President, Rajapaksa may remain in parliament and bide his time if the new national government does fail to click as a strong unit.
Before the general election President Sirisena said that the Local Government polls will be held after the parliamentary polls.
The local bodies whose terms have been lapsed are currently being administered by special commissioners in accordance with the Local Authority Act.
The government in March extended the official term of 234 local government bodies, which was due to expire by the 31st of March, until the 15th of May. The terms of other remaining LG institutes are to expire in October.