The Election Commission (EC) has recognised Sajith Premadasa as the new leader of Our National Front (ONF) or Ape Jathika Peramuna and MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara as its General Secretary, as well as a change in the party’s name to Samagi Jana Balawegaya or United National Power (UNP), with the new acronym widening divisions within the United National Party.
While Election Commissioner General Saman Sri Ratnayake, in a letter, informed the ONF that the EC had decided to agree to the request to change the names of office-bearers and the party, UNP Legal Secretary President’s Counsel Nissanka Nanayakkara wrote to the EC stating that as the English acronym for both parties was identical, the commission should refrain from recognising another party with the same acronymised name.
“I request the EC to refrain from registering any new political party which has as its acronym in English the letters UNP, and also to ensure that when the name of the new political party is translated from Sinhala to English, it does not have the same short form,” Nanayakkara said in the letter.
Meanwhile, Premadasa’s faction has requested the EC ‘s permission to change the symbol of the ONF, which is a telephone, to the shape of the heart under which the Premadasa-led alliance plans to contest the upcoming General Election but the matter is being deliberated over by the EC.
EC sources said that the request to change the symbol from the telephone to the shape of a heart could be considered only after the election was announced. The heart symbol was not among the approved symbols published in the gazette by the EC, but this could be overcome if a request was made after the date of the elections was revealed.