Sri Lanka rebel lawmakers claim wider support

June 21, 2007 (LBO) – Rebel lawmakers of the ruling party are claiming wider support to become a moderate “third force” in Sri Lanka’s politics, and said they would initiate talks with other opposition parties soon. Samaraweera is closely associated with Kumaratunga. Mangala Samaraweera, who was sacked by President Mahinda Rajapakse earlier, said the rebels would be talking with like-minded members in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) as well as other opposition parties.

Fellow traveller Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi claimed that about 20 members of the ruling party were with the rebels.

“Around 20 members would join us when the time comes”, Sooriyaarchchi told reporters.

The duo is planning to kick of their SLFP Mahajana, or ‘Peoples’ Wing on Friday at the ancestral home of former president Chandrika Kumaratunga, whose father founded the SLFP.

Samaraweera said the SLFP was no longer a peoples’ party or even a party of SLFP members and there was no internal democracy.

He said the SLFP was no longer treading a moderate middle path and a small group was controlling the government and sowing racial divisions.

However ruling party ministers have dismissed rebel claims.