President decides to remain neutral

  • SLFP says Sirisena committed to holding peaceful Presidential Poll 
  • Former General Secretary appointed Acting Party Chairman; SLFP and SLPP to ink MoU today 
  • Sirisena to return as SLFP leader once Presidential Election is over

By Nuwan Senarathna 

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) yesterday said President Maithripala Sirisena would stay neutral during the upcoming Presidential Election and was committed to holding a peaceful poll.

Speaking to the media at the SLPP head office, the party’s General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara said President Sirisena had temporarily stepped aside from the SLFP’s leadership and appointed the party’s former General Secretary Prof. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa as the acting Chairman of the party. 

“President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to temporarily step down as the SLFP’s Chairman was made in good faith. He wants this Presidential Election to be fair and peaceful. In my view this is a good example for everyone,” Jayasekara said.

Jayasekara stated that the Armed Forces and Police came under the President’s portfolio and therefore holding a neutral position during the Presidential Election was essential. Jayasekara argued that if the President supported a particular candidate that would damage the impartiality of the entire process.

Jayasekara noted that the President would not pledge his support for the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna’s (SLFP) presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa but the party however would campaign for Rajapaksa.

“The rebuilding of the party will commence soon after the Presidential Election. The President will lead the party once the election is over. President Sirisena is committed to rebuilding the party and will try his best to take the party back to its glory days.”

According to Jayasekara, the President will take the lead to protect SLFP supporters. However, Jayasekara did not provide details on what would be the role of President Sirisena in the proposed coalition between the SLFP and SLPP.

He stressed that the SLFP would be fully committed to Rajapaksa’s victory and as the SLFP leader, the President would bless the party’s Presidential Election campaign despite his neutral position.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the SLFP and SLPP will be signed today at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute to make official the SLFP’s support for Rajapaksa.