In line with his call for establishing a new political culture of consensus among parties, President and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) chief Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday set a record by participating in the 69th anniversary of the United National Party (UNP), which remained the principal political adversary of the SLFP till recently.
Addressing a gathering at the headquarters of the UNP near Colombo, Mr. Sirisena explained how a coalition representing himself, Prime Minister and the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and Ministers was supportive of making the new political culture a reality.Thanking the UNP and its leadership for supporting his candidature at the time of presidential election in January 2015, he recalled how Mr. Wickremesinghe himself had visited his house to take him to the venue of the final rally of the election campaign after security officials had advised him [Mr. Sirisena] not to attend the event.
In his ceremonial address to parliament and speech at the 64th anniversary of the SLFP last week, Mr. Sirisena stressed the same theme and said the most important task was to “build reconciliation among communities and take the country towards speedy socioeconomic progress and human development”. He had also called for ending, what he described as, hate politics.
At the UNP anniversary, the President had a word of caution for members of the two parties that the strength of the enemy should not be underestimated.
Mr. Wickremesinghe, in his speech at the UNP anniversary, said the government had two drivers [the President and himself], who would undertake the journey free of hurdles.
Palany Thigambaram, Tamil Progressive Alliance leader and Minister for Upcountry Villages’ Development, who was also present, said the day’s event cleared any misgiving as to whether the coalition between the country’s two principal parties would last even for two years. “I am now confident it will last even five years,” Mr. Thigamabaram told The Hindu .
Leaders of other parties, Patali Champika Ranawaka of the Jathika Hela Urumaya and Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka of the Democratic Party, also took part.