Written by Staff Writer
13 Dec, 2019 | 8:10 pm
Colombo (News 1st): Twenty-six (26) members of the working committee of the UNP have requested Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to convene the working committee before December 20th. The letter carrying the signature of 26 UNP working committee members states that the appointments to a number of key positions in the party and the current political situation of the country must be discussed.
UNP MP Ajith P. Perera said all the leaders of the UNP have signed this letter. He noted that through this they hope to discuss the issues surrounding the leadership of the party, the people’s views and the party supporters’ consent on the matters and reach a decision on these matters at a party convention before the opposition leader travels overseas for an extended vacation. He added that there are no permanent leaders in this country or anywhere in the world and holding the position of leader of the party for 26 years means being at the helm for over 1/4th of a century.
The Parliamentarian added that it is true that Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t become the president of the country during those 26 years, and if he couldn’t do it for 26 years he won’t be able to do it in the future either. He pointed out that they will only contest the general election under the leadership of Sajith Premadasa. He said that 99% of their party candidates who are contesting the next general election, that is everyone but 4 of the candidates believe that if Sajith Premadasa leads the election campaign as the prime ministerial candidate, they will be able to win the general election and he will be able to become the prime minister.
Perera noted that unless the group that opposes them have struck a deal to hand over the 2/3rds majority in parliament to their opponents, they see no reason why they should oppose the appointment of Sajith Premadasa as the Prime Minister. When Journalists questioned about those 4 people, he said that there is no point in naming them as everyone knows who they are.
Speaking regarding the issue former General Secretary of the UNP Tissa Attnayake noted that the tenure of the working committee of the United National Party will end on December 31st. He added that after that, the leader of the party can appoint 20 members to this committee at his own discretion. He said that the leader can also appoint the general secretary and the treasurer.
Therefore, Attanayake added that 23 members of the working committee are appointed at the sole discretion of the leader. He said Ranil Wickremesinghe’s faction has devised a scheme to evade this problem now by procrastinating it. He stressed that they must not be allowed to escape this issue.
At the Presidential election this year Sajith Premadasa was only given candidacy at the last moment while Ranil Wickremesinghe remained the leader of the party. After the Presidential election, the progressive members of the UNP were of the stance that they should hand over the leadership of the party to Sajith Premadasa before contesting the general election.
At the media briefing held after the presidential election, General Secretary of the UNP Akila Viraj Kariyawasam also said that Ranil Wickremesinghe is ready to step down from his position. However, a few days after making this statement the general secretary contradicted himself saying that Ranil Wickremesinghe will continue to function as the leader of the party.
UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe making a statement noted that he has handed over the coordination of their activities in parliament to their presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa. He added that parliament will convene on the 3rd and they will hold discussions on how they are to function in the future. He went onto note that he has been given the power to appoint a committee to inquire into the future of their party.
Thereby Lakshman Kiriella, Vajira Abeyawardena, Professor Ashu Marasinghe, Thalahtha Athukorale, Ranjith Madduma Bandara and Malik Samarawickrema have been appointed to the committee to present recommendations for reforming the party. However, convening a media briefing yesterday (December 12) Thalatha Athukorale and Ranjith Madduma Bandara said that the prime ministerial candidate for the general election should be the leader of the party.
They have informed the party of this stance and stepped down from the committees. Issuing a media release today the remaining members of the committee Lakshman Kiriella, Vajira Abeyawardena, and Ashu Marasinghe said that the committee has agreed to name Sajith Premadasa as the prime ministerial candidate.
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