Former Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan opposed to Mahinda Rajapaksa on the basis that the President and the Opposition Leader had been representatives of the same party. Although the issue has been settled now, it is worth to study the background of the argument. It is noteworthy that similar circumstances arose on previous occasions had not been questioned in this manner.
First instance such thing was reported was the year 1994. When Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaranathunga, People’s Alliance Member of Parliament representing Gampaha District became Prime Minister, the President was Dingiri Banda Wijethunga from United National Party.
Gamini Dissanayake, who became the opposition leader on August 24, 1994 held that position until he was assassinated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) during a presidential campaign rally on October 24, 1994. Accordingly, both the President and the Opposition leader were from same party.
Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaranathunga after winning presidential election assumed duties on November 12th. From October 28th to November 12th of the same year the Opposition Leader was Ranil Wicremasinghe whereas D. B. Wijethunga from United National Party was the President.
Again, President and the Opposition Leader of the same party were appointed on December 18, 2001. Rathnasiri Wickremanayake held the opposition leader post while Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaranathunga was the President.
When Mahinda Rajapakse was the Leader of the Opposition from February 06, 2002 to February 07, 2004, the president was Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaranathunga of the same party.
Therefore it is not new to have the President and the Opposition Leader from the same party under 1978 constitution. That happened on four previous occasions. President and the Opposition Leader were from same party over 1,100 days which is equivalent to three years approximately.
(Cover Photo: Gamini Dissanayake with his wife and children. His wife Srima Dissanayake contested for presidential election after Gamini’s assassination. Here are their children Aruni, Naveen and Mayantha. Latter two represent parliament now.
Read the original article in Sinhala language here written by Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe. Translated by Rajendra Wijesinghe