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Akila Viraj says UNP routing due to internal, external challenges, vows party restructure

Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe during the 2019 Presidntial campaign

ECONOMYNEXT – Attributing its stunning routing at this week’s parliamentary elections to internal and external challenges, the United National Party (UNP) accepted responsibility for its failures and shortcomings today and vowed to restructure the party going forward.

UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam requested party supporters to peacefully accept the outcome of the election. The UNP was unable to secure a single parliamentary seat at Tuesday’s polls, for the first time in the party’s nearly 74-year history. Party leader and three-time Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who polled a record 500,566 preferential votes at the 2015 parliamentary elections, lost his seat for the first time in his four-decade-long career. His record, incidentally, was broken by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa this year, polling 527,364 votes in the Kurunegala district. Meanwhile, the UNP breakaway faction, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) led by former UNP deputy leader Sajith Premadasa, came in a distant second with just 23.9 percent of the national vote.

Congratulating the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) for its landslide victory, Kariyavasam said it was the 19th amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution introduced by the UNP-led Yahapalana Government that ensured this year’s election was conducted in a free and peaceful manner.

“The UNP also wishes to take this opportunity to thank all public officers, tri-forces and the police who got involved in conducting a free and fair election,” he added.

This election was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic which partly contributed to the destruction of our economy, said Kariyawasam, stressing that the UNP is the only party which presented a strategy to control COVID-19 and to resuscitate and strengthen the home economy.

“However, the people have given a massive mandate to the SLPP and the UNP has encountered the greatest setback in its history despite many achievements which brought long-lasting benefits to the country and the people.

“As a party we faced many challenges internally as well as externally. The UNP is prepared to accept the responsibility for failures and shortcomings, both the result of its own actions and the actions of others,” he said.

Kariyawasam, who also lost his own seat in the Kurunegala district, further said It is evident that in this election the political parties based on policies have been overtaken by political movements.

“This could lead to an unstable political situation in the years to come,” he said.

“The party will be re-organized and re-structured to face the challenges and we will be moving forward with determination and vigor as has been done on previous occasions,” he added. (Colombo/Aug7/2020)

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