SLFP endorses sacking of ministers
Reinstatement if they say sorry, says President
The All Island Executive Committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) last night unanimously endorsed President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s decision to sack Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Anura Bandaranaike and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi.
The members agreed their conduct was a serious breach of discipline, a Minister present at the meeting said.
The decision came after SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena read out four instances where the trio had breached party discipline.
Mr. Samaraweera was accused of violating a foreign policy guideline by not voting for a UN resolution, calling an end to Israeli atrocities in the occupied Gaza Strip. This was heeding a US Government call thus causing embarrassment to President Rajapaksa, who was known to be a campaigner for Palestenian rights.
The three Ministers, Mr. Sirisena said, had kept away from voting in favour of extending the State of Emergency and making “irresponsible” statements against President Rajapaksa. They were also accused of first endorsing the entry of a group of UNP parliamentarians into the Government and later criticizing the move.
President Rajapaksa told members of the All Island Executive Committee, all of whom except the three Ministers who were present at Temple Trees, that Mr. Samaraweera was his campaign manager during presidential elections. He had made a worthy contribution together with Minister Sooriyarachchi. In addition the JVP had also made a tremendous contribution to his election victory.
He said if the three Ministers were willing to correct themselves of their faults, he was still willing to give them back their portfolios.
Mr. Sirisena was critical of Mr. Samaraweera for first objecting to the Memorandum of Understanding between the SLFP and the UNP. He had expressed the view that the UNP should be broken.
He was now taking a different view. By his actions he had done something good for the Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe. Now there were rumours of a Government being formed.
A humorous moment came when Deputy Minister Mervyn Silva spoke. He said Minister Samaraweera was a relative of his but he had made a grave mistake. He said he was very much with President Rajapaksa. Now that three Ministers had gone, the task of distributing their portfolios has now fallen on the President. “Please think of us too when you undertake this task,” he said.
Representatives of the Matara district were among active participants yesterday thus extending their support to President Rajapaksa. The Committee also gave a mandate to President Rajapaksa to take any further action he deemed necessary.