Arjuna fires salvo as UNP led alliance for Sri Lanka polls held up
ECONOMYNEXT – Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga has warned the United National Party to solve its internal problem if it wanted to keep smaller partners with it, with internal calls to democratize a proposed constitution for an electoral alliance.
Reformers in the party had objected to absolute powers taken by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in a leadership council, where Ranatunga, Patali Champika, Rauff Hakeem and several other leaders of smaller parties are represented.
There is a strong push within the UNP to make Sajith Premadasa the candidate in upcoming presidential elections.
"The UNP must solve its own problems," Ranatunga had said at a meeting on Sunday. "It is nothing to do with us, since we are not from the UNP, we are in the UNF. The UNP as a main party should learn how to solve its own problems."
Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times newspaper reported that Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader Rauf Hakeem and Mano Ganesan had said the alliance could be sealed after the UNP decides on its candidate.
Ranatunga had said talks on an alliance had been on for two years. There were talks with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in which UNP seniors were also involved, he said.
UNP reformers had asked an agreement with the alliance scheduled to be signed on August 05, be delayed until the constitution is made more democratic.
"If the UNP thinks it can go alone, it can do so," Arjuna had said. "If those who are shouting now do not realize what would have happened in the 52-day period if the four or five of us left for the other side.
"But we kept to a firm policy. But we now feel the UNP cannot solve its internal problems. If the UNP thinks it can go it alone, I privately think we can step aside and let them do that." (Colombo/Aug05/2019)