UNP-led alliance by end August; only goal victory for party and country – PM

Glossing over the controversy that erupted in last week’s explosive Working Committee meeting of the United National Party (UNP), party leader Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today that the proposed UNP-led Democratic National Alliance (DNF) will be formed before the end of August.

In a special statement issued to the media today (5), the UNP leader said the party decided to take more time to finalise the proposed constitution of the DNF, which was the subject of intense debate at last Thursday’s Working Committee meeting.

“New ideas emerged in the final round of discussions on the proposed constitution, which we thought would be important to consider before finalising the document,” he said, adding that the alliance will be formed towards the end of this month.

Insisting that the formation of the DNF would not hinder the day-to-day functions of its constituent parties, Wickremesinghe said the new alliance will be structured in a way that ensures their independence.

The parties that will form the DNF, which was scheduled to be established today until it was postponed at the last minute, are the UNP, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC), the Tamil People’s Alliance (TPA), the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and the United Left Front (ULF). Ministers Rajitha Senaratne and Arjuna Ranatunga have also been listed as “Individual Founding Members”.

According to leaked copies of the draft constitution, the DNF was to see a number of the UNP’s powers transferred to a ten-member leadership council that would enjoy “equal status and authority”. This means the DNF – not the UNP’s Working Committee and Parliamentary Group, as is standard practice – would decide on candidates for presidential, parliamentary, provincial and local government elections – a move that came under heavy criticism by senior UNPers including some Wickremesinghe loyalists at last week’s meeting.

The MPs seeking amendments to the constitution have expressed concern that it could be detrimental to the party’s future.

In his statement to the media today, the Prime Minister said that he has, for a long while now, been working towards a broad political alliance that would lead the UNP to victory.

“Our only goal is to win the presidential election through a UNP-led alliance, and then win the general election, set up a strong government, and put the whole of Sri Lanka on the path towards victory,” he said.

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