Written by Staff Writer
21 Sep, 2019 | 9:55 pm
Colombo (News 1st) – The backbench MPs of the United National Party revealed an attempt to appoint close associates of the Prime Minister to the UNP Working Committee.
According to the constitution of the United National Party, the working committee consists of 92 members whereas the committee consists of only 68 members as of today.
A group of UNP MPs reported of attempts being made to have a group of close associates of the leader appointed to fill the 24 vacant positions in the UNP Working Committee.
MP of UNP, Hesha Vithanage highlighted that they have received information on plans to have the appointments in the UNP Working Committee to be given to a selected group of more than 20 MPs. “We kindly request them to refrain from doing such degrading activities, that will take the UNP a step back”, he continued.
MP of UNP, Chaminda Wijesiri quoted the Chairman of the Election Commission who had previously stated that appointments should not be made particularly during the election season. He further added that those appointments made by UNP relating to the selection of a presidential candidate are not morally acceptable. He further added that the presidential candidate of the UNP should be selected during this time rather than the appointments to the working committee.
Meanwhile, General Secretary of the UNP, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, MPs Professor Ashu Marasinghe, and Kavinda Jayawardena, Colombo District Organizer Priyantha Pathberiya, and State Minister Dilip Wedaarachchi visited Temple Trees today (September 21).
Minister of Education, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam stated that they have regular meetings to discuss matters regarding their party and the presidential election adding that the working committee did not have any meeting and did not discuss anything related to the working committee today. He further highlighted that they have not decided on filling the vacancies in the Working Committee. He reasoned his statement as he said, “I am the General Secretary of the party. If such a thing was to take place, I would be aware”. The Minister noted that despite the number of vacant positions in the Working Committee, they are not required to be filled right now. He further added that matters concerning the Working Committee have not been discussed by Party Leader as well. A final decision on the presidential candidate of UNP would be made in the next week, the minister added even though he was uncertain of a specific date. “It was supposed to be on Wednesday, But there was a request made to set a date that was convenient to all of us. Therefore, the date may change by one or two days”, he continued.
Appointed MP of UNP, Prof. Ashu Marasinghe requested all MPs to read the UNP constitution considering statements made by certain MPs. He noted that certain MPs claim new appointments will be made to the working committee when according to the Party’s constitution, such appointments cannot be made.
MP Hesha Vithanage responded to the statement made by UNP national list MP Professor Ashu Marasinghe. He highlighted that he has the Constitution of the UNP and is aware of the process as to how members are appointed to the working committee. He urged the Working Committee to refrain from going against the party’s constitution advising them to use their powers in a morally acceptable manner. “This particular MP has been making all sorts of statements in the recent past. He tries to create divisions among the party. We know where he was and we also know where he plans to go. There is no doubt about that. We are MPs who stand with the innocent UNP loyalists”, he continued.
During a media briefing convened at Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s residence, it was stressed that both the working committee and the parliamentary group must gather in order to obtain an opinion to have the presidential candidate selected.
Non-Cabinet Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, Ajith P. Perera highlighted that the member parties who have joined the UNP to form the United National Front at present, have met, discussed and pledged their support to Sajith Premadasa. He further added that it has been informed to the leader of the UNP, Ranil Wickremesinghe. “Since we all must contest the elections, and we do not have any difference between us, it is important if all 107 of us gather and reach a final decision”, he continued.
MP of UNP, Reginald Perera highlighted that the working committee and the parliamentary group that paved the way for President Maithripala Sirisena to rise to his current position. Therefore, he continued as the decision was taken by the indicated two groups, why can’t they follow the same in order to pave the way for Sajith Premadasa as well?
Meanwhile, a member party of the United National Front, the Jathika Hela Urumaya, released a statement regarding the delay in nominating a presidential candidate.
The statement notes their disagreement with the efforts of the UNP’s Working Committee in selecting the presidential candidate.
The statement further highlighted that the process of selecting the presidential candidate should incorporate the participation of member parties inclusively. The degree of democracy in the structure and composition of the party’s working committee is considered dubious according to the statement. The statement further indicated suggestions on the selection of the presidential candidate; that it should be done by the parliamentary group of the United National Front and not the working committee.
Governor of Central Province, Keerthi Tennakoon expressed his views on the matter in discussion. He highlighted that democracy has been made a joke when considering certain recent events noting the delay in appointing a presidential candidate in certain political parties. “This is an era where I can appoint the working committee and expect the committee to field me as the presidential candidate”, he stated.
The Governor further added that the proposal where the provincial council MPs were allowed to choose a presidential candidate was first put forward in 1995. “This is common to both the UNP and the SLFP. We are in a country where democracy is left aside, the people and their mandate is ignored, and the presidential candidate is chosen by the close associates and friends. This is not a democracy”, he continued.
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