by Zacki Jabbar
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is likely to be nominated as the UNP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Presidential candidate, senior party sources say.
Sources said that according to the UNP constitution it was the party leader who had to contest the presidential election unless he or she declined or was too feeble to undertake a rigorous campaign.
If a secret ballot was held among members of the Working Committee and Parliamentary Group, Wickremesinghe would emerge, a senior minister who did not wish to be named said, adding that the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim parties which would be joining the UNP-led NDA to be launched shortly, were also of the view that a senior and mature candidate such as Wickremesinghe was necessary, to draw in a cross section of Sri Lankan society including the Buddhists.
He added: “The UNP, anyway, has a sizeable Buddhist vote and most of the Tamil parties have already stated that they will not back Sajith Premadasa. It is the support of the youth who will become eligible to cast their ballots for the first time and that would be crucial to become President.”
The Minister said that some UNP MPs who had lost their electorates were clinging on to Sajith, in the hope that they would be able to perform better at the next general election, but what they had not realised was that their ongoing public campaign would affect the party and eventually ruin their chances of being re-elected.