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UNP leadership crisis: Ranil prepared to listen to majority – Wijepala

United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is willing to hold discussions with former deputy leader Sajith Premadasa and then take a decision on his next move, UNP MP Wijepala Hettiarachchi said.

This, Hettiarachchi told reporters today, will be in line with the request made by a majority of UNP parliamentarians. Earlier this week, 57 UNP MPs signed a letter to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya requesting him to recognise Premadasa as Opposition Leader.

By next Tuesday, UNP supporters will hear something positive about the party’s future, the MP said.

“It is clear that Ranil Wickremesinghe is willing to listen to a majority of MPs. If 57 UNP parliamentarians want Sajith Premadasa to be appointed Opposition Leader, Wickremesinghe is prepared to discuss it with him. I hope Premadasa conveys a positive response in this regard during the course of the day,” he said.

Hettiarachchi added that opinions relating to the party leadership as well as the position of Opposition Leader will be taken into consideration during the discussion.

He added that a number of MPs and leaders of the constituent parties of the UNP-led alliance have already held discussions at the Sirikotha party headquarters on the matter. These include MPs Thalatha Atukorale, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Navin Dissanayake, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Palany Thigambaram, Rauf Hakeem and Manoganesan.

“I believe you will hear something positive by Tuesday. We shall try to wrap up the discussions before Parliament commences. The [Democratic National Front] leaders have said that Premadasa gave a positive response yesterday. Wickremesinghe gave the presidential candidacy to Sajith respecting everyone’s unanimous decision. Just like that, I believe Premadasa will get this position with the blessings of Wickremesinghe,” said Hettiarachchi.

Asked whether it is ethical of those who left the UNP in 2010 to support Mahinda Rajapaksa and joined the party recently again to criticise the party leadership, Hettiarachchi said that it is absolutely unethical to do so.

“I think that one or two people who came from the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) still belong to that party. They have no right to speak about the UNP leadership. They haven’t even received party membership yet. But they come to the media and say that the leadership should be changed. I wonder if it is a part of some deal or contract,” he said.

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