By Nuwan Senarathna
The United National Party (UNP) yesterday passed a slew of resolutions at their annual convention, including a commitment to take forward the constitutional reform process which began in 2015, including the abolition of the Executive Presidency, but in concurrence with the Prime Minister and other stakeholders.
During the convention, held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, six resolutions were passed by the UNP, to take forward constitutional reforms that were included in their earlier manifesto for the 2015 Presidential Elections. Prime Minister and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe presented the resolution, which was unanimously approved by party members.
The six resolutions included: fielding UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa as the presidential candidate; appointing Wickremesinghe as UNP Leader; working to form a majority government of UNP parliamentarians in 2020; and recognising Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s role in resolving the constitutional crisis of 2018.
Addressing the event, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe called all party members to unite to win the upcoming presidential election. He pointed out that the party’s unity was essential for its future, as it was only by staying together that the party could overcome its opponents and detractors.
“Every time we have been divided, the party has lost. In 1969 the party was divided and we lost, in 1994 it was the same. Therefore, we must learn from our past mistakes, and work as a team for our victory. Once we get power, we must not relinquish it. We must work to strengthen it even further,” he said.
He noted that the party had established a second tier of leadership to take the UNP forward. Wickremesinghe was insistent that sustainability and endurance were unique qualities of the UNP, which had been practised extensively since its inception. The second line of leaders would work to develop the party and country.
“I am happy to say that we were able to establish a secondary leadership tier, but I have recognised one lacking point. That is we do not have enough female representation. However, I have full confidence that the second tier of leadership will be able to increase female participation.”
Wickremesinghe pointed out that the party would commit to winning the upcoming Presidential Election and Parliamentary Election, likely to be held next year. He said the UNP Government would also continue the reforms needed to establish Sri Lanka as an export-oriented and technology-driven economy, which would drive sustainable development.
Addressing the convention, UNP presidential aspirant Premadasa pledged to lead the party and the country to prosperity. He echoed Wickremesinghe’s plans for the economy and touched on the importance of providing well-paying and accessible jobs for youth.
“I will establish an economy based on digital technology, so that people in every corner of the country could stay connected. I intend for every youth in the country to be empowered through technology,” he said.
Premadasa expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe for fielding him as the presidential candidate. According to Premadasa, Wickremesinghe is a leader who is ready to sacrifice his desires for the betterment of the country and the party.
“I am glad that we have a leader who is very generous. I have full confidence that we can win the upcoming Presidential Election and form a stronger UNP government.”
Premadasa said his policies would be people-oriented, and a national agenda would be prepared to work closely with the public. He noted that his only desire was to serve the people of the country and improve their standard of living. Premadasa said that he would sign a “transparent social agreement” with the public as a way of promising that he would deliver on his promises.
Premadasa assured that he would introduce policies to ensure equal treatment for women.
Addressing national security, Premadasa noted that he would provide the latest equipment for the security forces. He pointed out that the newest equipment and training would help advance the security forces and establish a more secure environment within the country.