Written by Staff Writer
30 Jan, 2020 | 9:04 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st):- United National Party Working committee has decided to nominate Sajith Premadasa as the Prime Ministerial candidate, the leadership of the alliance to face the upcoming election and also to appoint him as the chairman of the Election Nomination Board.
Issuing a press release, General Secretary of the United National Party Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said the Working Committee decided to authorize Sajith Premadasa to be named as the General Secretary of the Alliance. The working committee of the UNP convened today (January 30) against a backdrop where close to 30 members had not attended the meeting.
Today the committee convened in violation of the initial agreement between Sajith Premadasa and Ranil Wickremesinghe that the previous members of the working committee will be reappointed to the committee. Ajith P. Perera, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Rosy Senanayake, and Imthiyaz Bakeer Marker have been removed from the UNP working committee. Close to 30 members of the UNP working committee boycotted the meeting citing that such actions affect the unity of the party.
However, when the meeting began at Sirikotha this evening, Mangala Samaraweera, John Amaratunga and Lakshman Kiriella had said that Ranil Wickremesinghe should remain as the leader of the party. It was reported that Malik Samarawickreme had proposed at the meeting for the leadership of the alliance to be given to Sajith Premadasa along with the prime ministerial candidacy at the upcoming election.
Following discussions held on the matter at the meeting, it was decided that Sajith Premadasa should be appointed as the leader of the alliance and be fielded as the prime ministerial candidate. Also if Sajith Premadasa is appointed as the leader of the alliance he will be able to appoint the general secretary of the alliance based on the preference of a majority of the working committee.
Also, discussions were held regarding MP Ranjan Ramanayake, the proposal to suspend his party membership was approved at the working committee meeting. The working committee also decided today to hold a disciplinary inquiry against MPs Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa, Ananda Aluthgamage, and Dunesh Gankandha.
Following the meeting of the working committee, a number of UNP parliamentarians spoke to the media.
Member of the Working Committee, Lakshman Kiriella said;
“During today’s UNP Working Committee, a unanimous agreement was reached to hand over the leadership of the alliance to Sajith Premadasa and to assign him the task of heading the election campaign. This decision will be re-affirmed when the Working Committee meets again next Thursday.”
When inquired if matters pertaining to leadership were discussed at the meeting, the MP responded that they did not since around 40 parliamentarians in the Working Committee had signed a document stating that they need to join hands with Sajith Premadasa and move forward.
He claimed that therefore, the leadership of the alliance was handed over to Sajith Premadasa but that however, the post of party leader continues to be held by Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Meanwhile the General Secretary of the United National Party, Akila Viraj Kariywasam says that out of the 59 members appointed to the Working Committee, that 37 members attended today’s meeting, while six of them had informed earlier that they would not be able to make it. Kariyawasam confirmed that accordingly, 16 members were absent at today’s meeting.
He further says that no one has been sacked, but only that a new Working Committee was appointed as it should be annually, but he also added that two past members were reappointed today.
“The two past members are Ajith P. Perera and Sarath Fonseka. We have an immediate need to prepare ourselves for the election. Therefore, we have decided to appoint a committee headed by Sajith Premadasa by discussing with the party leadership in order to oversee the election campaign.”
The General Secretary also added that the matter pertaining to the party symbol will be discussed internally and informed to the general public.
Meanwhile, the members who were removed from the working committee of the UNP spoke of the matter in such a manner.
UNP MP, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka says;
“I wasn’t even informed that I was removed from the working committee. Certain members have been invited to the meeting in secret. The people who were dropped are those who demanded a change in the leadership and requested for Sajith Premadasa to be appointed as the leader. Our government did not work according to the aspirations of the people for four years. If nothing has been done for the district, will people vote for you? If not Ranil Wickremesinghe, who else should be held responsible for this. Even though we were members of the working committee we did not get any personal gain. I think that is what many people in the party criticize.”
Former Minister, Imthiaz Bakeer Markar also speaking on the matter said;
“This decision taken by Ranil Wickremesinghe shows that the United National Party is ready to move forward from their feudal mentality. A democratic party cannot move forward like this. Both Ranil Wickremesinghe and I spoke on the same stage at the presidential election. I cannot understand the reason for the disciplinary action taken against me. If the United National Party’s working committee is a committee that simply nods their heads to whatever Ranil Wickremesinghe says then the future of the UNP is in doubt. How do we attract the new generation? How do we build a sense of trust among them? The United National Party was a party that stood strong for democracy in the country. We need to show democracy within the party. We need to set an example.”
Meanwhile, another group of representatives who did not take part in the Working Committee meeting remained at the Party Headquarters.
UNP MP Kabeer Hashim, said;
“In order to grant what the people want, we need to go forward with the leadership of Sajith Premadasa and we request the party’s undivided support. We requested the working committee to approve the appointment of Sajith Premadasa as the alliance’s leader and this was approved by them. We received the approval for Sajith Premadasa to appoint a General Secretary for the new alliance. We also requested the approval to appoint Sajith Premadasa as the Chairman of the nominations committee, and we received the approval for that too. I believe the foundation upon which Sajith Premadasa can go forward has been laid.”
Also speaking on the matter, UNP MP Malik Samarawickrama said;
“A request has been made to appoint Sajith Premadasa as the leader of the new alliance. In the next few days, we will be creating this massive alliance. This will not be an expansive alliance just by name. It will be registered with the Commissioner-General of Elections, with a new General Secretary, with a new group of officers and a committee consisting of representatives from all parties that join us.”
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