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Make or break decision for UNP tomorrow on eve of Parliamentary dissolution

The UNP party headquarters in Pitakotte/EconomyNext

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National Party will hold a make-or-break Working Committee meeting tomorrow, Sunday,  to decide on which symbol the Alliance it leads for the upcoming Parliamentary General election will use.

The factions in the party one led by Parliamentary Opposition and Alliance Leader Sajith Premadasa and the other led by Party Leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are in a fight to control the formation.

Last week a committee made up of equal numbers of members from the two factions was appointed to work matters out and they chose the Swan symbol which was used by the same alliance during the Presidential election.

However, a Working Committee meeting held on Friday failed to endorse that decision.

The Swan symbol is held by Shyamala Perera, a long-time UNP activist who is seen as a supporter of former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake.

Party sources said Karunanayake is imposing conditions on the alliance for the use of the Swan that is not acceptable to the Premadasa faction.

Premadasa has asked the party leadership to allow the alliance to contest under the Elephant, the potent, well-recognised symbol of the UNP.

However non-UNP members of the coalition such as the Hela Urumaya and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress are “not comfortable” with the Elephant, these sources said.

Premadasa has announced that the Alliance will be launched on Monday.

Tomorrow’s Working Committee meeting will need to make a decision once and for all as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will dissolve Parliament either on Monday or Tuesday to trigger the election on April 25 or 26.

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The governing Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has already formed a powerful alliance and has hit the campaign trail.

Coming into the Parliamentary Elections in the after-glow of the massive electoral victory it won in the Presidential election, the SLPP-lead Sri Lanka Podujana Nidahas Sandhanaya (SLPNS) is an almost certain winner.

However, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s party does not want a mere simple majority in Parliament but a two-thirds of the House so that it can re-engineer the Constitution to restore executive powers in the Presidency. (Colombo, February 29, 2020)

-Arjuna Ranawana

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