|Thursday, 24 January 2002|
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga on Tuesday urged the members of the PA Parliamentary Group to make a united effort to protect and safeguarded their alliance without falling into traps laid by the UNP to win them over through various conspiracies.
Addressing a meeting of the PA Parliamentary Group at the Presidential Secretariat she said the PA government which came to power after a 17 year period of bitter struggle was brought down by a section of its own membership which betrayed the party policies for the sake of power and material gain.
The PA government which rendered a vast amount of service during its 7 year period of rule made a genuine effort towards solving the gravest problem faced by the nation today. Therefore, as members of the PA they should think of the country first without trying to seek any personal gain.
The President said she had never committed any crime or fraud during her career and as such she is prepared to appear before any court on this score. She recalled that she had worked hard day and night on behalf of her country and her party without seeking any personal luxuries.
The President said since her childhood she had shown a high regard for the SLFP. Therefore, she will sacrifice her whole life towards protecting the SLFP as a powerful democratic party in the world with the help of the party membership. It is around the SLFP that all democratic parties have flocked to form the PA.
Referring to the LTTE, the President said it has suffered a severe set back today due to the indefatigable efforts made by her and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Lakshman Kadirgamar to get it proscribed in several foreign countries. Although the PA Government proscribed the LTTE locally following the barbaric attack on the Sri Dalada Maligawa it continued the peace process in earnest. However, this peace process failed due to the non cooperation of the UNP and other opposition parties.
A press release issued by the Opposition Leaders office said President Kumaratunga at the outset informed the group that Opposition Leader Ratnasiri Wickremanayake was not attending the meeting because he was indisposed.
Parliamentarian Dr. Sarath Amunugama at this point questioned the veracity of certain newspaper reports that the PA Executive Committee had decided to appoint Mahinda Rajapakse as Leader of the Opposition.
Opposition Chief Whip Mahinda Rajapakse at this point said this news report is completely false. He said no such PA Executive Committee meeting had been held and Mr. Wickremanayake will continue to be Leader of the Opposition.
President Kumaratunga said they should be more courageous in defeat rather than in victory. Paying a glowing tribute to Mr. Wickremanayake she said he was among the handful of members who remained in the party after its humiliating defeat in 1977. Mr. Wickremanayake then took over the post of party General Secretary and worked hard to re-organise the party spending from his own pocket.
A group of people including Mr. Wickremanayake were sent to jail by the UNP regime during the 1982 Referendum. Nearly 3000 SLFP activists were made to languish in jail during that period.
It was also decided to appoint Dr. Sarath Amunugama as the PA Media spokesman.
Several topics including the debate on the Prime Ministers Policy Statement, Budget Debate and nomination of candidates for the Local Government elections were also discussed at this meeting.
Produced by Lake House