SLFP seniors are of the belief that a senior SLFP member should be appointed as the next Prime Minister if current Premier D.M. Jayaratne is to retire from politics, party sources said.
Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Maithripala Sirisena and John Seneviratne are the next in line according to the seniority list of the SLFP after former Premier Ratnasiri Wickremanayake and Jayaratne.
A group of senior SLFPers and heads of several parties affiliated to the government have spoken to Minister Sirisena and had asked him to request the President for the post of Premiership. Sirisena had received these requests after hearing reports about attempt to appoint Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as the next Prime Minister.
They have all expressed their support to Sirisena. It is learnt that Sirisena had made the controversial statement about Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe giving tips about the UNP’s Presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake’s campaign in 1994 to Chandrika Kumaratunge in order to get the attention of the media.
Senior journalist, Newton Gunaratne who launched a special media campaign for President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his first Presidential election is currently Minister Sirisena’s media advisor. Gunaratne has proposed that Sirisena should appoint Minster Wimal Weerawansa as his head of media propaganda. Weerawansa is disgruntled with Gotabhaya after he supported MP Duminda Silva during the last general election to get more preferential votes from the Colombo District.
It is learnt that senior SLFPers, Ministers A.H.M. Fowzie, Janaka Bandara Tennakoon and Pavithra Wanniarachchi have expressed their support to Sirisena.
Meanhwile, governing party ally, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has also extended his support to Sirisena’s cause.