EXCLUSIVE: UNP leadership not my personal property - Ranil

EXCLUSIVE: UNP leadership not my personal property - Ranil

August 12, 2015   12:41 am

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says that accusations of dividing the country and imposing taxes on water are last-ditch efforts by the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) to sling mud at the UNP and assured that the people will not be deceived by them.  

He denied accusations from the opposition that the government is attempting to impose a tax on water and charged that it was a last-minute effort by the UPFA to sling mud in the face of certain defeat. 

“These are the people who made an earning by increasing the marriage fee. What more can I say,” he said in an interview with Derana 360°.

Asked whether the JVP has changed in recent times, Wickremesinghe said that the UNP and the JVP are of the same opinions when it comes to establishing democracy, democracy and eradicating racism.

“We agreed on democracy, eradicating racism and establishing good governance. Within that frame we all agree. Outside of that our opinions differ.” 

The UNP leader stated that he still believes there is a division within the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and that the numbers supporting former President are dwindling.

When asked whehter losing the 2005 election to Mahinda Rajapaksa was the reason for not contesting the next to presidential polls, the Prime Minister stated that he did not lose the election and accused Rajapaksa of paying the LTTE to secure a victory.

“I was not defeated. They reached an agreement with Prabhakaran to stop Tamil people from voting. He has still not denied this. Even I received those conditions. I did not agree to them. They asked money from me as well. A did not agree to give money.”

He claimed that Rajapaksa initially gave the LTTE Rs 200 million and that after the election in 2005 another Rs 2,000 million was given intermittently under the guise of building houses. 

“The agreement there was that no one in the Rajapaksa family can be harmed,” the PM charged. 

He claimed that the agreement was halted only after the attempted suicide attack on then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in December, 2006. 

“One thing should be remembered. In 2005 the LTTE had fallen with the loss of the Sea Tigers, with seniors leaving, damages from the Tsunami. Prabhakaran used these 12 months to train another 4,000-5,000. If that didn’t happen, the war could have been ended without any major losses to the military and Tamil people. Because that 5,000 was trained it was delayed and the battle was dragged out.”  

Asked what his government intends to do regarding the former chief arms procurer of the LTTE, Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP, he said: “We appointed a commission to decide what to do because India has also asked for him.” 

He said that Mahinda Rajapaksa should have retired after losing the bid to become the President for a third term. “His return to Parliament is a violation of all these traditions.  He is even coming to Parliament to challenge the leader of his party,” he said. 

When asked why he refused to step down as the leader of the UNP despite calls from a section of the party, Wickremesinghe said the party told him not to stop when one or two people shout. “When there is a majority of the party present - 95 per cent - there is no need to ask about 1-2 per cent.” 

Asked who he thinks is suitable to takeover leadership of the UNP after him, he replied: “Party leadership is not my personal property. The party will decide who comes after me.” 

Regarding the recent shooting incident at Bloemendhal Road in Kotahena, the PM said that he asked the IGP to arrest any individual to help investigations based on the evidence, be it underworld-related or a personal dispute. He stated that the IGP informed him that investigations are still ongoing.

Responding to a question regarding accusations from the opposition that leading underworld figures are returning to the country, Wickremesinghe stated that no underworld leaders can enter the country and that the police are held responsible.  

“Back then an organised crime investigations division existed but it was not allowed to operate.” He stated that after the election a powerful special police unit will be established to investigate the underworld crimes and those groups, similar to the Financial Crime Investigations Division (FCID). 

He also denied that establishing authorities for various sectors, as proposed by the UNP election manifest, was not an attempt to privatize those sectors.  

He stated that authorities would ensure group decision making through a board of members instead of the existing process of one person making all the decisions in respective fields. 

He inquired as to whether the current Mahaweli Authority and Environmental Authority have been privatised. 

The UNP leader expressed confidence that his party would secure a majority of seats in parliament at the General Election on August 17. 

“The following week we will present our plans and all party leaders will be summoned to discuss parliamentary select committees (PSCs),” he said. 

Addressing the countries voters, he said that everyone should think about the future and vote for a party which can fulfill that future. 

“Today, there is only one alternative and that is the United National Party.”

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