The United National Party Working Committee unanimously decided this afternoon to offer Sajith Premadasa the post of Prime Ministerial Candidate for the upcoming Parliamentary General elections, former Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella told EconomyNext.
This would make him automatically the leader of the UNP-led New Democratic Front Alliance that will take on the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna led group at the hustings.
The offer was proposed by MP Ravi Karunanayake but was not seconded as Premadasa did not attend the meeting.
Premadasa has to accept the nomination next Thursday when the committee is due to meet again.
Kiriella also said that more than 40 members had signed a letter urging Premadasa and Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to work together at the election.
The Working Committee which is the top decision-making body in the Party also decided that Wickremesinghe would stay on as Party Leader.
Kiriella said that only 59 out of the 99 member Committee had been appointed up to now for the year 2020 and 16 members “stayed away for no reason.” Six others he said had sent in letters of excuse.
He said media reports that more than 35 members had boycotted the meeting was not true.
Kiriella added that two members, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and Ajith P Perera were removed from the WC because of recent statements they had made against the Party Leadership. Both have been highly critical of Wickremesinghe.
He said Colombo Mayor Rosie Senanayake’s nomination to the WC from the Women’s Wing of the party and former MPs Imtiaz Bakeer Markar and Chandra Gankanda’s nominations from the ex-MPs Association had not been received on time. He said they have not been removed from the WC.
Kiriella said that Wickremesinghe and Premadasa had met last evening “and worked things out.”
He is of the opinion that Premadasa and his close supporters had not attended today’s meeting because Fonseka and Perera, vocal supporters of Premadasa had been disciplined.
However, Bakeer Markar was critical of the leadership saying that the UNP has to have internal democracy and “escape from its feudal thinking.”
He told EconomyNext that the party risks becoming weak and “we will not have a legacy to leave for another generation.”
He said that if the Party Membership is confined to Yes Men only, then the UNP will not have any future.