UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake resigned from the UNP Leadership Council yesterday, heightening fears that the party was set to suffer yet another internal crisis soon after its electoral gains in the Uva Province over the weekend.
Attanayake in a letter to UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he was disillusioned about affairs within the Leadership Council in the recent past.
The move comes as the UNP Working Committee prepares to meet tomorrow to ratify the reappointment of Sajith Premadasa as Deputy Leader of the party. Wickremesinghe is to propose Premadasa’s name along with the names of two other UNP stalwarts, for Assistant Leader and Treasurer positions.
Highly-placed UNP sources told the Daily FT that Premadasa had made the dissolution of the Karu Jayasuriya-led Leadership Council a major condition of accepting the deputy leadership.
Attanayake’s letter noted that he had worked tirelessly to coordinate matters between the Council and the Party Leadership. Attanayake’s resignation prompted fears that his exit would hasten the end of the Leadership Council, which was set up by the Working Committee in October last year.
Attanayake complained that while he had tried to bring about the Ranil-Karu-Sajith reunification because that was the plea of the party, he had been condemned for his efforts.
“I believe Sajith Premadasa should be Deputy Leader of the party,” Attanayake’s letter of resignation asserted.
He accused UNP Leadership Council member Ravi Karunanayake of having exchanged words with him over the moves to reinstate Premadasa.
Attanayake said he felt the argument was both insulting and threatening. He told Wickremesinghe that he wished to continue as General Secretary of the UNP.
Highly-placed UNP sources claimed Attanayake was using Karunanayake as an excuse to quit after the UNP Leadership refused to meet other conditions put forward by the Premadasa faction during negotiations about the reinstatement.
“As chief broker of Sajith’s reinstatement, Attanayake has not been able to live up to his commitments to the publisher involved in the negotiations,” a UNP MP told the Daily FT on grounds of anonymity.
Karunanayake has been a vociferous Premadasa critic, accusing the Hambantota District MP of working to Government and media mogul agendas.
Wickremesinghe is to propose the name of Karunanayake for the position of UNP Assistant Leader.
UNP National List Parliamentarian Eran Wickramaratne is likely to be proposed as the new Party Treasurer, sources said.