Oct 18, Colombo: Former deputy leader of Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP), Karu Jayasuriya decided last minute to avoid attending the protest rally organized by the United Bhikku Front on behalf of former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka.
Jayasuriya was scheduled to attend the rally that was organized at Hyde Park this evening.
Issuing a statement, Jayasuriya said he took the decision after a great deal of thought.
He observed that he had made the decision not to attend the rally by bowing down to the majority decision of the party.
"I will ultimately bow to the majority will of the party, as exercised through the UNP Working Committee. Most importantly, I cannot in good conscience take a step that will almost certainly further divide and weaken my party. Therefore after a great deal of thought I have decided not to attend the rally at Hyde Park today. I hope my party will cease and desist from penalizing and exacting revenge from those members who answer the call of conscience. To do so would only serve the interests of the ruling administration that thrives on a weakened and fractured opposition" he said.
"It has always been my opinion that the Executive Presidential System is the bane of this country and since the enactment of the 18th Amendment to the constitution, the danger it poses to democracy and the principle of the separation of powers grows ever stronger. The United Bhikku Front deserves our unreserved respect and honour for attempting to gather the forces of opposition to this system on to one platform to campaign for change. But I remain, first and foremost a member of the United National Party," he added.
Jayasuriya has earlier planned to attend the rally and urged the party to reconsider its working committee's decision to ban the party members from participation in the anti-government rally.
The party's deputy leader Sajith Premadasa, also siding with the party leader Ranil Wickremasinghe, has declined the invitation from the organizers to participate in the rally.
However, UNP parliamentarians Palitha Range Bandara, Palitha Thewarapperuma and Ashoka Abeysinghe and UNP provincial councilors Shiral Lakthilaka and Maithri Gunaratne attended the rally.