The United National Party rank and file are visibly shaken over social media reports claiming their Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa will abandon the party and throw his support behind President Maithripala Sirisena.
President Maithripala Sirisena has openly stated on several occassions that Minister Sajith Premadasa is more suitable for premiership than the incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Multiple social media reports, apprently planted by groups supporting President Sirisena, stated that President Sirisena had plans to appoint Premadasa as the Prime Minister on April 15.
Some social media posts speculated that Sirisena wanted run for the presidency as a “third force” with Sajith Premadasa’s support.
Although the President did not make any drastic move on April 15, the rumour sowed seeds of doubt on the minds of UNP rank and file.
Premasasa, on the other hand, has not made any public statement so far dispelling the rumours and pledging allegiance to the party leadership.
When contacted by Asian Mirror, a senior spokesman of the party said the UNP stood firmly behind its leader, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
“Social media reports are planted by the President’s group to sow discord among UNP supporters. They tried similar tactics during the no-confidence motion and the political crisis last year, and failed miserably,” the UNP spokesman explained.
“Our presidential candidate is Ranil Wickremesinghe and the entire party will back his candidacy. There no room for any ‘third candidate’ supported by a dissident group within the party. It is only a figment of imagination on the part of Sirisena supporters,” he added.