SLPP swings into action as UNP cancels Alliance launch

As the Yahapalana government sputters to the end the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) election machinery swung smoothly into action on Sunday while the launch of the United National Party (UNP) led National Democratic Front (NDF) alliance which was to happen today 5 Aug was cancelled.

SLPP workers went door-to-door in many parts of the country handing out leaflets with some details of their manifesto setting the tone of the debate to follow in the next four months leading up to the Presidential Elections.

The SLPP is planning to announce its candidate on Monday 11 Aug, at its first National Convention at which Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa will formally accept the Party Leadership.

The front-runner for the candidacy is former Secretary to the Ministry of Defense Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whose ardent supporters have organized a motorcade which will crisscross the country immediately after the convention to promote the candidate.

Meanwhile, posters announcing the launch of the UNP-led NDF are still up but the event will not take place today.

The cancellation was forced by the testy, contentious meeting of the UNP Working Committee on 1 Aug which ended with the Members agreeing they should form an alliance but not on the terms that were outlined in the draft constitution that was presented to them at the meeting.

Senior Party Members and several Ministers said that the UNP which is the largest party has been placed in a disadvantageous position within the alliance.

Many members opposed the proposal to have the headquarters of the alliance at a Residence which Parliament.lk states is the private residence of MP Chathura Senaratne the son of Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne.

They asked that the headquarters be moved to Sirikotha the UNP HQ in Kotte.

They also wanted the Secretary-General post in the NDF to be given to the UNP and several members proposed that Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa be chosen for the position.

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An increasing number of UNP Parliamentarians and WC Members are backing Premadasa as the NDF Presidential Candidate.

On Saturday a four-member committee comprising UNP Leader Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, party Chairman and Minister Kabir Hashim, Secretary-General Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and Leader of the house Lakshman Kiriella were to consider the amendments to the NDF constitution proposed by UNP members.

Officials at the PM’s office at Temple Trees, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were “many suggestions and amendments” forwarded to the committee and “due to the prevailing conditions” which they did not elaborate, the alliance leaders had a discussion and decided to postpone the launch.

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