Nominations of the United People’s Freedom Alliance hit a fresh snag today when President Maithripala Sirisena opposed giving nomination to 10 stalwarts of the pro – Rajapaksa camp, including Western Province Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had insisted that all members of the “Abhayaramaya cabal”, including Ranatunga, should be given nomination from the UPFA to contest the election. Rajapaksa said he would pull out of the UPFA and contest from a separate front if the UPFA failed to meet his demand.
Rajapaksa was expected to sign his nomination papers today at 2.10 pm. However, due to differences of opinion signing of nominations had to be postponed at the last moment.
Ranatunga’s nominations have been rejected on the grounds that two of his siblings-namely Arjuna Ranatunga and Ruwan Ranatunga – will contest from the UPFA for the Gampaha district. Other Rajapaksa supporters have been denied nominations on the basis that bribery, corruption and criminal charges have been levelled against him.
UPFA soure confirmed that Mervyn Silva, Duminda Silva, Sarana Gunawardena and Sajin Vass Gunawardena would not receive nomination from the coalition led by President Sirisena. Addressing a press conference held at the SLFP headquarters this morning, UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha said some ex – MPs would not receive nominations from the party.
Meanwhile, sources close to President Sirisena said he had convened a meeting for civil society activists who supported him at the last Presidential election before finalising UPFA nominations. The meeting was expected to take place tonight at the President’s residence in Colombo.