Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to select Minister Sajith Premadasa as the UNP presidential candidate. Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, a close ally of Wickremesinghe, too, has thrown his weight behind Premadasa.
The next rally in support of Premadasa is scheduled to be held in Matara on August 23. Samaraweera has organised the event.
State Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, Dilip Wedaarachchi addressing party supporters in Galle warned that if the UNP leadership did not select Preamadasa as the candidate, they will bring Premadasa from a different political party.
“Everyone saw the crowd that came for the meeting held in support of Premadasa. Mind you this was in Badulla. I urge the party leader and the working committee to elect Preamadasa as the party’s candidate.”
Wedaarachchi said that they had written to the Prime Minister asking for a meeting to discuss the matter. “There are some people who want to make things difficult. If not for them, I think the Prime Minister will give nomination to Minister Premadasa,” he said.
A large number of former UNP provincial councilors from Kandy yesterday called for Premadasa’s candidacy.
Holding a press conference in Kandy, the UNPers said that Premadasa was the only candidate that could lead the party to victory.
Non-Cabinet Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, Ajith P. Perera, a one-time loyalist of Wickremesinghe, yesterday reiterated that Premadasa was the best candidate for the UNP.
Addressing a gathering at Batticaloa, he said that although the party had not officially endorsed Premadasa, the UNP parliamentary group as well as UNP supporters wanted Premadasa to run for President.
UNP Chairman, Kabir Hashim told The Island that the UNP candidate would be someone who felt the pulse of the poor people.
Hashim, at a recent UNP parliamentary group, proposed that Premadasa be made the UNP presidential candidate.