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Parliament dissolution likely today, UNP in shambles

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Parliament is likely to be dissolved today and while the governing party’s campaign for an end-April poll is well under way the main opposition United National Party (UNP) remains deeply divided.

A crucial meeting of the UNP’s top decision-making body the Working Committee which met on Sunday ended without a decision under which symbol its alliance will contest, a statement released by the Opposition Leader’s Office said.

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.

However the Wickremesinghe faction said that the WC had decided to contest with the potent and highly recognizable Elephant symbol.

The statement from the Premadasa faction said that this was not true.

It added that “although various arguments were presented, there was no conclusion.

“It is clear that there was no desire to create an opposition alliance to challenge the government,” it added.

However the launch of the Premadasa-led alliance will go ahead today, the statement said, which may finally split the Opposition.

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.

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.

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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.

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, March 2, 2020)

Arjuna Ranawana


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