I just watched a live news broadcast on Sirasa TV. In it, members of the SLFP, by authority and (apparently) majority, proudly announced that President Maithripala Sirisena was the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, replacing ex-President Mahinda Rajapakse.
Now here’s the interesting part. Maithripala Sirisena, the former General Secretary of the SLFP, ran for the President largely under the auspices of the Opposition – the United National Party. Sure, there were other parties in the coalition that supported Maithri towards the win, but the UNP – a party that has consistently grabbed more than 40% of this country’s votes in every election – was undoubtedly the force behind the New President.
Maithripala’s symbol was the Swan. So this begs the question: what color is this creature? Most people thought it was green. Everybody else says its blue. It looks like the UNP pulled off not a victory, but a matrydom of sorts.
The big point here is that despite the massive UNP push, Maithripala was ever a Common Candidate – not legally a UNP nominee, but a nominee of a hasty coalition (welcome to multi-party politics). In fact. in an an interview published on the 24th November, Maithripala stated that he had not left the SLFP, was still the Secretary and, in fact, that the UNP “had made a sacrifice.”
Members of the SLFP confirmed this today, sticking to the legal clause in their charter that automatically makes any party member who becomes the President the de facto Chairman of the SLFP.
Basically, what we’ve gotten is an President with apparently no major party opposition whatsoever. How can you be opposed when every party champions you? How does this work?
Interestingly, this raises a question as to what Mahinda Rajapakse is now. Unless I’m missing something, it looks like a supremely legal and classy about-face by many of his regime. It also raises the question as to what the MP’s reported to be crossing over are actually crossing to.
Useful link: This is our government structure right now: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_unity_government
Update: it’s clear that there is a split in the SLFP over this matter now. See https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/slfp-divides-crisis-worsens/