A Special Convention of the UNP held at the Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday, unanimously endorsed Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa as the United National Front’s (UNF) Presidential candidate and confirmed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the UNP leader.
After the Convention accepted Wickremesinghe’s proposal to endorse the UNP Working Committee ( WC ) decision taken on September 26, to nominate Sajith as the UNF’s Presidential candidate, Sajith was accompanied onto the dais by his mother and former first lady Hema Premadasa.
In the audience were Sajith’s sister Dulanjali and wife Jalani. Also present on the occasion were Assistant UNP leader Ravi Karunanayake and constiuent party leaders of the UNF, Rauff Hakeem , Patali Champika Ranawaka, Palani Digambaram and Mano Ganeshan.
The Convention approved with a show of hands the UNP WC decision taken in terms of Article 8 ( 1 a ) of the Constitution on January 24, to appoint Ranil Wickremesinghe as leader of the UNP and the WC’s decision of September 26, to take forward the Constitutional reform process commenced during the current government with regard to devolution, electoral reforms and Executive Pesidency, with concurrence of the Prime Minister and all its stakeholders.
Two new proposals presented yesterday, namely to obtain the support of all sections and individuals who endorsed the policies of parties in the UNF for the victory of Sajith and in tribute to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who acted fearlessly in preventing last years Maithripala Sirisena- Mahinda Rajapaksa 52-day coup regime from ejecting the lawfully elected Ranil Wickremesinghe government from power and thereby protecting democracy and the peoples franchise being eroded, were also approved.
Addressing the Convention amidst loud cheers, Sajith praised Wickremesinghe for his foresight in agreeing to nominate him as the UNPs Presidential candidate and thereby not only strengthening the party but also the UNF of which the UNP was lead partner. He also thanked Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and the people, for placing their faith in him to create a united , peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka. National security , Sajith stressed would be a key priority of his Presidency.
He predicted that with the support of Wickremesinghe, history would be created by winning the November 16 , Presidential Election. Sajith said that 26 years after the death of his late beloved father Ranasinghe Premadasa, the pary which he loved so much, had given him an opportunity to win the Presidency.
Pledging life long service on behalf of the people, Sajith said that he would not enter into any agreements that were detrimental to the country, and would take steps to revive loss making state institutions and maximise the country’s resources.
Sajith pointed out that he was not a wealthy person. ” My wealth is the people and I will work against family bandyism. I will also visit every nook and corner of the country to meet and discuss with the people their hopes and aspirations, which I would fulfill if elected President.”
Premadasa said that the people would be empowered by a new national work plan and nepotism would not be permitted under any circumstances.
“Skilled people are needed to marshal the country’s administration for the well being of the people. I will work with the Prime Minister to establish skilled governance nourished by knowledge”, he added.