A majority of seniors of United National Party (UNP) have today (06 September) proposed that Ranil Wickremesinghe should be given the Prime Ministerial candidacy and Sajith Premadasa to keep the party undivided.
Accordingly, the senior members of the party have decided that there should be a direct discussion between the party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and deputy leader Sajith Premadasa regarding the proposal and come to a consensus.
Senior Ministers of the UNP participated in a discussion today at Temple Trees following a request made by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Ministers Lakshman Kiriella, Kabir Hashim, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Ranjith Maddumabandara, Malik Samarawickrema, John Amaratunga, Daya Gamage, Vajira Abeywardena, Naveen Dissanayake and Gamini Jayawickrama Perera were present at the meeting.
The steps that should be taken to address the issue of Presidential candidacy has been discussed at length during this meeting.
Seniors have suggested at the meeting that the party should work towards a solution that stops a division being created in the party and that Ranil Wickremesinghe should be given to the Presidential candidacy and Sajith Premadasa the Prime Ministerial candidacy.
Meanwhile, it is reported that Minister Lakshman Kiriella and Minister Kabir Hashim have had a heated argument at this meeting.
Minister Kiriella had alleged that when the President had decided to remove the Ministry of Petroleum Resources Development from Kabir Hashim and assign it to him, Kabir Hashim and a group had met the President and prevent him from doing so.
However, Hashim has been accused by the rest of the group as well on this regard and he has also been accused of obtaining signatures from the UNP MPs for a petition to make Sajith Premadasa the Presidential candidate.
According to media reports, Hashim had left the meeting before the conclusion of the meeting amid heavy allegations leveled against him.
Sajith and Mangala absent
UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa and Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera have noted attended today’s meeting.
It is reported that Samaraweera has left for Jaffna by train today to attend the Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition which commences in Jaffna tomorrow (07 September).
Wickremesinghe has said that he will stand as the Presidential candidate at the beginning of the meeting. Responding to the Prime Minister’s stance, Kabir Hashim, Malik Samarawickrema and Ranjith Madduma Bandara have pointed out that the most popular person is Sajith Premadasa and a large crowd is gathering for his meetings, therefore a decision about him should be taken after careful consideration.
Responding to this, Daya Gamage has stressed that a large number of people attend Sajith Premadasa’s meetings because he calls himself the Presidential candidate of the UNP and after Ranil Wickremesinghe is officially nominated as the Presidential candidate, the party has the strength to bring in ten times as many people for the meetings.
Ranil is the best Presidential candidate – Fonseka
Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has stressed that a country cannot be governed by focusing only on grass root level public and a crucial election such as a Presidential election which covers the whole country, cannot be won based on them.
Therefore, the Presidential candidate of the UNP should be able to represent all groups of the entire society including the Maha Sangha and other religious leaders, civil society, minority groups, labour force, intellectuals, upper middle class, middle class, village level and grassroots level and Ranil Wickremesinghe has all these qualifications.