As part of the on-going efforts to form a grand alliance of Opposition parties to contest the next Presidential election, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem has commenced separate discussions with Tamil National Alliance leader R. Sampanthan. He also invited the leader of the Democratic People s Front, Mano Ganeshan MP for talks.
According to UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, already nine rounds of talks have been held on forming a grand alliance. The meetings were held at Siri Kotha, the UNP headquarters and at the office of the leader of Opposition at Cambridge Place.
The participants included Ranil Wickremesinghe, Tissa Attanayake, Ravi Karunanayake of the UNP, SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem, General Secretary, M. T. Hassan Ali, Deputy General Secretary Nizam Kariyappar, Democratic People s Front leader Mano Ganeshan, General Secretary and WPC member Kumara Gurubaran, National Organizer and WPC member Prabha Ganeshan, SLFP(M) leader Mangala Samaraweera and General Secretary, Tiran Alles.
According to informed sources, the discussions centered round the abolition of the executive presidency and the election of an Executive Prime Minister answerable to Parliament.
`Almost 90 per cent of crucial matters pertaining to the grand national alliance have been thrashed out at several discussions and the symbol is not an issue`, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said.
Discussions would also be held with the JVP to work out a common strategy of contesting the presidential election, Attanayake said.
Attanayake told The Island yesterday afternoon that many political parties, including the Nava Sinhala Urumaya and several other civil organizations had expressed desire to join the alliance.
A political solution for the national issue, restoration of law and order, strengthening of the economy, democracy and freedom of the press would be taken up at talks next week, Attanayake said.
Meanwhile, asked for comment on the UNP s invitation to the JVP to join opposition grand alliance, JVPGeneral Secretary Tilvin Silva told The Island last night the JVPwould never strike deals with the UNP. However, he said the JVP would consider supporting a recognised non politician as a common presidential candidate on the condition that he would undertake to abolish the Executive Presidency.