SLPP urges EC to foil bid to absorb political appointees

COLOMBO (The Island/ANN) - Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna requests the Election Commission to prevent personal staff of the President and the cabinet of minister from being absorbed into the state service ahead of the election.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has requested the Election Commission (EC) to thwart moves by President Maithipala Sirisena and Internal and Home Affair and Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Vajira Abeywardena on behalf of the UNP to absorb personal staff of the President and the cabinet of ministers, respectively into the state service, ahead of the Nov 16, 2019 presidential poll.

Top SLPP spokesman Dullas Alahapperuma said that such appointments weren’t acceptable under any circumstances. The Matara District MP said so in response to The Island query as to how the SLPP intended to thwart the illegal moves contrary to election laws.

The Island raised the issue at a media briefing called by the SLPP at the Viyathmaga Office, in Etul Kotte.

Lawmaker Alahapperuma said that though the cabinet papers were to be presented on Tuesday, Nov 11, they would be subjected to approval by the next government.

President Sirisena and Minister Abeywardena have proposed pension rights to those who served politicians for a period of five years.

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, alleged that the move to absorb 700 political appointees was nothing but sure sign of admitting defeat at the forthcoming presidential poll.

Alahapperuma said that the illegal move was brought to the notice of the EC yesterday morning. The EC consists of Mahinda Deshapriya (Chairman) Nalin Abeysekera, PC and Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole.

In responding to The Island query Prof. Hoole said: "If true it would be a case of treating it as a case of bribery of the proposed appointees to buy their votes."

Lawmakers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Dullas Alahapperuma and Wimal Weerawansa yesterday briefed the media as regards the ongoing Gotabaya Rajapaksa campaign.

The media was told of lawyers affiliated to the SLPP complaining to police headquarters about a person who accused the previous Rajapaksa administration of systematic abductions. MP Weerawansa questioned as to how a person who identified himself as the driver of a ‘white van’ addressed the media with Minister Rajitha Senaratne. MP Weerawansa alleged that having addressed the media at the minister’s office, he left with the politician in the same car.

Weerawansa urged the police to question Dr. Senaratne’s associate to identify those involved in ‘white van’ abductions.

Lawmaker Alahapperuma identified Dr. Senaratne’s associate as the main suspect in a bank robbery.

Alahapperuma alleged that attempts were being made to overwhelm the Rajapaksa camp with a high profile tarnishing campaign. MP Alahapperuma, who also functions as the SLPP presidential candidate’s official spokesman pointed out that unsubstantiated claim of 7,000 tonnes of gold moved from the north to Colombo was all part of their strategy.

Lawmaker and attorney-at-law Nimal Siripala de Silva said that high profile bid to question the legitimacy of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s candidature on the basis of him still being a US citizenship proved the bankruptcy of the ruling coalition. Had they really believed in their accusations, the UNP should have protested to the EC before petitioning the Supreme Court, the SLFPer said.

Lawmaker de Silva said that ongoing efforts to undermine Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s candidature should be examined against the backdrop of a determined attempt on the part of the UNP to reach a consensus with President Sirisena regarding their candidate. The former minister alleged that the UNP made both covert and overt moves though the SLFP rejected the moves. However, the UNP hadn’t given up its efforts, the Badulla District MP said.

Former Minister de Silva denied any knowledge of President Sirisena decision to pardon Shramantha Jude Anthony Jayamaha convicted for the killing of his girlfriend 19-year-old Yvonne Johnsson. Jayamaha was convicted by the Colombo High Court in 2012. Responding to a query, the lawyer said that in terms of the Constitution, the President could grant amnesty. The former minister said that the SLFP was not consulted on this. According to the minister, President Sirisena could act on his own without being guided by anyone. Asked by The Island whether it was fair for the President to release a person found guilty by the judiciary and affirmed by the highest court in the land, the MP said that it was a debatable point.

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