Oct 20, Colombo: Ranil Wickremasinghe, the leader of Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) has called for tight military discipline in his fractured party to rise against the powerful Sri Lankan government.
"What is necessary for the UNP to become the government party is not a flexible leadership, but a tight military discipline," the opposition leader has said today addressing a meeting of the UNP district activists in Kandy.
Explaining his decision to suspend 15 members of his party for attending an anti-government rally, the opposition leader said "those who violate discipline are given no leeway and are treated with severe punishment."
The UNP working committee yesterday decided to suspend 15 members of the party including three parliamentarians and several provincial councilors for their participation in the opposition rally organized by the National Bhikku Front (NBF) and held under the leadership of former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka.
The working committee earlier banned party members from attending the rally held on October 18 and warned them that strict action would be taken against them if they participated.
Wickremasinghe has signed the letters suspending the membership of the 15 party members. The suspended members include parliamentarians Palitha Range Bandara, Palitha Thewarapperuma, Asoka Abeysinghe and Provincial Councilors Shiral Lakthilaka and Maithri Gunaratne.
The suspended members have been given time to explain their action.
The General Secretary of UNP Tissa Attanayake has told local media that the decision to suspend the membership of the party members was taken according to the powers vested in the party leader after considering the report given on the members.
However, the three suspended legislators have said that they are yet to receive any written or verbal notification from the party leadership on their widely reported suspensions.
One of the suspended UNP MPs, Palitha Range Bandara addressing a media briefing today has said that the working committee that met before the Thursday's rally had not made a formal decision or clearly indicated the committee's decision to penalize the members for attending Fonseka's rally.
"The majority of working committee members did not express any objection to MPs or provincial councilors attending the meeting. If a decision was to be made to abstain from attending the rally, it should have been voted on," Range Bandara has been quoted by Daily Mirror as saying.
Meanwhile, the NBF, the organizer of the Thursday's rally has said that a series of agitations would be held in the upcoming weeks to urge the UNP to reinstate the suspended membership of the MPs and other members.