Sajith Premadasa steps up pressure on Sri Lanka’s UNP for nomination

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ruling United National Party is entering a decisive week with Sajith Premadasa re-iterating his claim to be the candidate, as attempts are being made to come up with a consensus candidate, political sources said.

At a rally in Matara, Premadasa declared that he will run for President, leading to speculation that he would breakaway and campaign independently if the UNP does not give him the ticket.

“In a few months this country will face a turning point,” Premadasa said.

“I want to say at this moment that Sajith Premadasa will run for president. Do not have any doubts about it.”

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera who organized the rally however indicated that all attempts would be made to come up with a consensus candidate.

“I believe that over the next weeks, he will become the candidate with a proposal by Ranil Wickremesinghe our honorable leader, and seconded by Karu Jayasuriya ,” Samaraweera said.

“Our allied parties have also expressed support.”

A delegation of senior UNP members had met leader Wickremesinghe on Monday seeking his agreement to suggest Premadasa as the candidate, but no agreement was reached.

Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times newspaper said UNP Chairman Kabir Hashim had met Karu Jayasuriya Friday, who is being put forward with leadership backing as a possible candidate.

Jayasuriya had said that he would support any candidate chosen by the party, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile President Maithripala Sirisena had also nominated a team to talk with Sri Lanka Podujana Party of Mahinda Rajapaksa on an alliance, reports said.

The SLPP had already nominated Goatabaya Rajapapaksa as the candidate and the campaign is under-way.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna had also nominated Anura Dissanayake as their candidate.  (Colombo/Aug24/2019)