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Maithri ready to meet challenge

SLFP Leader and President Maithripala Sirisena is ready to face the challenge thrown by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa" who last week hinted that there was a need to form a new political party as there was majority support from grassroots level SLFPers" authoritative SLFP sources told us'

A senior spokesman for the SLFP said that the President who leads the SLFP would not stop anyone from leaving the party but was now in the process of re-organizing the SLFP' ‘New electoral and grassroots level organizers would be appointed shortly’" he added'

The Joint Opposition in Parliament comprising SLFP dissidents and smaller parties earlier mooted the idea to form a new political party as the smaller parties were not recognized as separate entities in parliament by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya'

The Speaker held that smaller parties in the Joint Opposition were members of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance ^UPFA& led by the SLFP and therefore they could not be given separate recognition to be included in the party leaders list'

The Joint Opposition over the past few weeks held closed door talks at several venues in Colombo to form a new political party'
They are now in the process of holding district level meets with SLFP local Government and Provincial Councillors to gather support towards a new political party'

Joint Opposition sources confirmed that a new political party would emerge before end March but declined to name the leader of the party'

However" the names of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa" former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa are on cards" the sources noted'

They said former Transport Minister Kumara Welgama and Parliamentarian Udaya Gammanpila were vying for the post of General Secretary in the new political party'

According to latest reports" former Minister Dinesh Gunawardena who sits with the Joint Opposition in Parliament is yet to announce his position with regards the formation of a new political party'