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Akila Viraj has a “deal with the government”- Imtiaz

Former UNP Working Committee member Imtiaz Bakeer Markar/Facebook.com

ECONOMYNEXT – Five days before Nomination Day, the United National Party has made a move that will surely scuttle any attempts to unite the Grand Old Party before Parliamentary General Elections on April 25.

UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam officially informed the Elections Commission Saturday that his party will be contesting “all 22 electoral divisions.”

The substantial portion of the UNP is now with the Sajith Premadasa-led Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and there was active talk that the UNP will officially enter into an alliance agreement with him.

However, Saturday’s letter has dashed that hope. “It is a move calculated to confuse the party supporters, a Googly bowled by Ranil Wickremesinghe,” one of Premadasa’s senior advisers said.

A former member of the UNP Working Committee Imtiaz Bakeer Markar supports Premadasa and told EconomyNext that Kariyawasam’s letter was “very unfortunate.”

Bakeer Markar pointed out that the UNP Working Committee, the party’s top decision-making body, had decided to create the Alliance, give Premadasa the leadership and appointed him to head the Nomination Board.

In fact, that decision was conveyed to Media by Kariyawasam he pointed out.

“Now he is going against that Working Committee decision,” Bakeer Markar said.

“This letter is something that has been done to benefit this government, because Kariyawasam has a deal with the government,” he added.

The Premadasa faction of the party now ensconced in the SJB claimes that more than 80 per cent of the UNP local government and provincial councillors are on their side.

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Except for Kariyawasam, the other senior party officials, including President Kabir Hashim, Mangala Samaraweera, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Lakshman Kiriella, Malik Samarawickreme and Thalatha Atukorale are with Premadasa.

The only national-level leader still with the Wickremesinghe faction is National Organizer Navin Dissanayake although his younger brother Mayantha has joined Premadasa. (Colombo, March 7, 2020)

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