By Akitha Perera and Chaminda Silva
The Election Commission (EC) has approved a request from those supporting Sajith Premadasa to rename ‘Ape Jathika Peramuna’ as ‘Samagi Jana Balavegaya,’ and make MP Ranjith Maddumabandara its General Secretary.
The Premadasa faction wants to contest the upcoming general election from ‘Samagi Jana Balavegaya.’
Commissioner General of Elections Commission, Saman Sri Rathnayake in a letter to Secretary of the alliance MP Ranjith Maddumabandara, yesterday, approved the renaming of the Ape Jathika Peramuna as ‘Samagi Jana Balavegaya.”
The Premadasa faction has sought to register the ‘heart’ as the symbol of the alliance. However the Commission can accept the symbol after the election is declared, Rathnayake has said.
The ‘heart’ has not been gazetted as the symbol of any political party. On February 02, the Premadasa faction requested the Elections Commission to change the name of the political party ‘Ape Jathika Peramuna’ to ‘Samagi Jana Balavegaya.’ They also requested that Premadasa be accepted as the chairman of the party and Maddumabandara its General Secretary.
UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed the leader of ‘Ape Jathika Peramuna’ on 23 September 2019 by the party’s Central Committee. MP Rajitha Senarathne was appointed its General Secretary. However, the EC has accepted the requests of Premadasa faction.
Addressing the media in Colombo, those loyal to Premadasa and Wickremesinghe made contradictory statements. If the UNP leadership wanted the newly formed alliance placed under Opposition Leader, Sajith Premadasa to contest under the elephant symbol, Secretary of the alliance MP Ranjith Maddumabandara should be authorised to sign nomination lists of candidates, Sajith loyalists said, yesterday.
MPs Ajith P. Perera and S.M. Marikkar said that the UNP had contested elections thrice under the Swan symbol and that contesting under a new symbol again should not be a problem.
UNP General Secretary, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam told the media yesterday that the UNP could contest a presidential or a provincial council election under a different symbol, but its constitution said that it must contest General Elections under the Elephant symbol. “To contest under a different symbol, the UNP Working Committee has to agree to change the party Constitution.”