FNO: Civil society actively engaged in party politics
(Courtesy of The Island)
Top Federation of National Organizations (FNO) spokesman Dr. Wasantha Bandara, yesterday, alleged that those foreign funded NGOs/civil society organisations played a pivotal role in implementing the UNP strategy.
Referring to their efforts at the last presidential election in January 2015, Dr. Bandara said that no less a person than US Secretary of State in 2016 revealed their role in change of governments in Myanmar, Nigeria and Sri Lanka. Dr. Bandara discussed the issue at a media briefing called by the FNO, at its Rajagiriya office yesterday. Dr. Bandara quoted US State Department report that revealed US funding to the tune of USD 585 mn to change governments in Myanmar, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.
Referring to recent civil society action against SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the Court of Appeal, he said was part of a deliberate attempt to harass the candidate and to mislead the electorate.
Having dealt with the UNP strategy at presidential polls conducted in 2005, 2010 and 2015, Dr. Bandara said that the civil society played a critical role in the ongoing campaign.
The civil society to a certain extent had succeeded in suppressing contentious issues by propagating lies, Dr. Bandara said, alleging that heavy funding seemed to be available.
Dr. Bandara also questioned the circumstances under which former Army Commander Mahesh Senanayake received nominations from a party owned by President’s Counsel Srinath Perera. Alleging that Senanayake fled the country after January 2010 presidential election and returned in the wake of Maithripala Sirisena’s victory at the last president in January 2015, Dr. Bandara said that Gen. Senanayake received public attention due to collective failure of the administration to thwart the Easter Sunday attacks.
As the Commander of the Army at the time of near simultaneous suicide bombings in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa, Senanayake, too, should be held accountable for the grave security lapse on the part of the government to thwart the terrorist operation, Dr. Bandara said.
Responding to another query raised by The Island, Dr. Bandara said that all political parties in the presidential fray lacked a proper strategy. Instead of taking up real issues at national level and other problems impacting the public, political parties organized events, some arranged by event management personnel for the benefit of the media, Dr. Bandara said. Political parties should seriously review their strategies, he said, urging them to take up the parlous state of the national economy, political reforms, Geneva issue, foreign interference and deterioration of cultural values.
Responding to a query by The Island on how the FNO viewed JVP presidential candidate Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s pledge that he would inflict drastic cut on funds allocated for former Presidents, Dr. Bandara alleged that the JVP was engaged in a desperate bid to deceive the electorate. The JVPer couldn’t fool the masses. The former Presidents couldn’t live on the streets. They had to be looked after, Dr. Bandara said, challenging the JVP to explain as to how billionaire spice trader Mohammed Ibrahim held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in connection with the Easter Sunday carnage, was put on the JVP National List at the last parliamentary poll in August 2015.
Dr. Bandara alleged that the JVP owed an explanation as to how Ibrahim’s two sons came to be among seven National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) suicide bombers responsible for Easter Sunday carnage.
Dr. Bandara also faulted President Maithripala Sirisena for spending Rs 200 mn to amalgamate two state owned houses to one having repeatedly vowed not to use the President’s House.
In addition to Dr. Bandara, attorney-at-law Kalyananda Thiranagama, Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera and Jagath Chandrawansa explained as to how the UNP leadership sought to pursue disruptive yahapalana policies in terms of Wickremesinghe-Premadasa partnership.
The media was told that the UNP couldn’t achieve its objectives for want of consensus between President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe on critical issues. Premier Wickremesinghe was determined to continue with his game plan regardless of on and off setbacks, Dr. Bandara said.
The one-time JVPer recalled as to how Wickremesinghe brought in Sarath Fonseka as their candidate in 2010 after the nationalist forces helped Mahinda Rajapaksa win 2005 presidential poll. Dr. Bandara asserted that Wickremesinghe fielded Fonseka to prevent Mahinda Rajapaksa reaping the advantage of Sri Lanka’s triumph over LTTE terrorism. At the last presidential, Wickremesinghe exploited the animosity between the then Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena to engineer the devastating split, Dr. Bandara alleged.
By Shamindra Ferdinando