President Maithripala Sirisena said yesterday he would hand over the leadership of the SLFP not to a member of his family but to an educated and intelligent youth who engaged in clean, decent and corruption-free politics.
He said nepotism, corruption, thuggery and misrule had harmed the country and the party and therefore he was determined to build a new political culture and nurture a new breed of politicians untainted by corruption and wrongdoings.
At a meeting held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, the President told 7,000 UPFA and SLFP candidates will contest the February 10 LG polls under the betel leaf or hand symbol -- that a corruption-free political culture and a new generation of decent politicians would be born on February 11 and that he and the party was fully committed to achieving this objective.
Going down memory lane he said he participated in the SLFP’s youth convention in 1982 as the President of the party’s youth front under former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
“In 1982, I never had the faintest dream that some day in the future, I will be addressing you as the President of this country and as the head of the SLFP,” the President said.
"This is a vision to hold before you because you are the ones who must take over the leadership of this country and the SLFP. To do that you need to be educated, intelligent, bold and fully committed to desist from corruption, thuggery, misrule or misdeeds. The UPFA and the SLFP will never tolerate corrupt politics or corrupt politicians. We will begin cleaning up the local administration after LG polls,” he said.
He said he hoped to see a set of young politicians who read books, newspapers and engaged in intelligent debates.
"When this new breed of young and clean politicians take over the administration at the grassroots level, the results will influence provincial and national level politics," the President said.
He asked the candidates not to insult or pick up fights with other party candidates during their election campaign.
“You explain your development programmes to voters. You tell them how you are going to resolve their problems and how you will resolve their day to day issues. Never engage in character assassination. You must act as parents, sibling or friend of the voter,” the President said.
He said some people ask what the government did during the past two and half years.
"Certain media institutions fabricated news to fit their agendas. When Russia suspended our tea imports to that country, our detractors were jubilant saying it is the end of our tea industry and is the result of the friendly relations with the global community, the President said. “I rang up Russian President Vladimir Putin and requested him to lift the ban and he responded in positive and friendly manner and it was lifted in two weeks. There is a shortage of urea fertilizer these days. I spoke to Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi requesting his help. He spoke to me a few hours ago and said he will be sending a consignment of 40,000 metric tons of Urea to Sri Lanka immediately. That is the result of our foreign policy."
He said clean politics and clean politicians would never be defeated and that the SLFP and the UPFA would be victorious and pave the way for 2020 general elections and the 2021 presidential election.
UPFA General Secretary, Minister, Mahinda Amaraweera, SLFP General Secretary, Minister Duminda Dissanayaka and Minister S.B. Dissanayaka also addressed the candidates. (Sndun A Jayasekera)