Ranil proposes nomination as Presidential candidate of UNF :
UNP Working Committee unanimous:


Defying all speculation of internal divisions and, seemingly bringing together various factions in the UNP’s lengthy candidacy search, UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa was yesterday unanimously endorsed as the Presidential candidate from the United National Front by the UNP’s Working Committee yesterday.

UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe chaired the UNP Working Committee meeting and he proposed the nomination of Minister Sajith Premadasa as the UNF’s Presidential candidate.

The hundreds of UNP members gathered outside in support of Premadasa’s candidacy burst into applause and cheered wildly when the decision was announced. Many were heard welcoming the healing of internal disagreements and avoidance of any division.

After months of acrimonious debate and negotiations, the climactic Working Committee meeting of the UNP took place at Sirikotha at 3.00 pm yesterday and Minister Premadasa’s nomination was unanimously approved. The nomination will now be directed to the Parliamentary group of the UNP-led United National Front (UNF) where immediate endorsement is expected.

During the meeting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe noted that the selection of the Presidential candidate of the UNF had been entrusted to the UNP. He said that many party members and supporters urged that the presidential candidate be selected without a division within the party. He said that the party needs to forge ahead in accordance with the party principles.

Addressing the UNP Working Committee, Wickremesinghe said that the majority supported the candidacy of Sajith Premadasa and now that his nomination has been finalized, the UNP needs to consult with the other parties within the UNF and formulate a strategy to win the election.

The UNP will now call a convention to confirm the Working Committee’s unanimous decision in a week.

In a Twitter message Minister Harsha de Silva said that this is tradition and as always the party confirms the Working Committee decision. Besides nomination of Sajith Premadasa, Harsha de Silva also noted that they will put forward two more proposals to the official UNP convention to continue to move forward the agenda on devolution, Executive Presidency and parliament electoral reforms and to appreciate Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya for his 52-day defence of Sri Lanka’s democracy (during the Constitutional crisis last year).

The final decision to nominate Sajith Premadasa was taken during a special meeting of top leaders held at Temple Trees last morning ending weeks of speculation regarding the UNP’s decision on their presidential candidate.

That meeting was attended by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Ministers Rajitha Senaratne, Navin Dissanayake, Sajith Premadasa, UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and a number of other Ministers and MPs.

Minister Navin Dissanayake, who attended the meeting confirmed to the media that the Prime Minister had agreed to name Sajith as the Presidential candidate of the United National Front.

Following the nomination of Sajith Premadasa as the UNF Presidential candidate by the UNP Working Committee and the approval of the nomination by the UNP parliamentary group a media briefing was held at the UNP Headquarters ‘ Sirikotha’ by the General Secretary of the UNP Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and, Party Chairman Minister Kabir Hashim.

Addressing the media Minister Kariyawasam said, “It is a special day for the party and the country and we have finally resolved the issue amicably and nominated our presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa. Ranil Wickremesinghe will continue to function as the Party Leader and Prime Minister in the future too. We will contest the upcoming elections under a broad coalition and in addition to the parties already with us in the UNF, there are several other parties who have also expressed their desire to join us.” He said that the party will convene a meeting with all parties within the UNF on September 30th. In addition the UNP Convention would be held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on October 30th at 10.00 am. The main election campaign after the nomination of the UNF presidential candidate will kick off at the Galle Face Green on October 10th at 2.00 pm.

UNP Chairman Kabir Hashim said that September 26th (yesterday) was “a memorable day for the UNF and the whole country as all parties had eventually reached a unanimous agreement without any division”.

“In the recent past we the UNP was in a state of temporary slumber. But now we have awakened and we are ready to commence our victorious campaign with vigor. For all those who ridiculed us and thought we could be defeated and cast away, I want to say we are awake now and after being well rested we are ready to take on all challenges before us with greater confidence. We have nominated the candidate whom the people demanded. Our journey has not been easy as we have always spoken the truth as a party. We were certain that our party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe would take the right decision at the right time,” he added.


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