“Act honestly to seek resolution”: Bhikkus tell Ranil

Friday, 18 October 2013 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Letter to Ranil from monks reveal 8-point proposal for leadership restructure
  • Monks want Ranil to function as Senior Leader, Opp. Leader and Head of Parliamentary Affairs
  • Transfer all power from Party Leader to Leadership Council
By Dharisha Bastians A group of Buddhist monks affiliated with the main opposition United National Party has called on its Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to act honestly to seek a solution to the current crisis facing the party, the Daily FT can reveal. “We urge you kindly to act with honest intentions, hold discussions and reach a decision,” the United Bhikku Front told Wickremesinghe earlier this week. In a letter dated Tuesday, 15 October 2013, Anunayake of the Ramayana Monastic Order, Girambe Ananda Thero has set out an eight point proposal for resolution of the UNP’s leadership crisis that includes Wickremesinghe assuming the position of ‘Senior Leader’. The letter that was signed by several other UNP affiliated monks was handed over to Wickremesinghe during his Tuesday afternoon meeting at a temple in Colpetty, the Daily FT learns. “You should function as the Party’s Senior Leader. You should also function as the Opposition Leader and the Head of the Party’s Parliamentary Affairs,” the monks’ proposal, entitled ‘Uniting the UNP and taking it towards victory’ stipulates. The initial proposal by the Bhikkus did not include the proposal for Wickremesinghe to remain Senior Leader, but the position changed after the UNP Leader expressed a desire to remain Opposition Leader, UNP sources told Daily FT. The proposal states that the new Council that will run the UNP should have sweeping powers and be named the ‘Leadership Council’. “All of the powers of the Party Leader should be delegated to the Leadership Council,” the Bhikkus’ proposal said, adding that all appointments, reform and decision making must be performed through the Council. “The Council should have all power to restructure every organisation within the party, including its Working Committee,” the monks’ proposal says. Under the current UNP Constitution, the Party Leader makes the bulk of the appointments to the Working Committee that is the party’s apex decision making body. The proposal by the Bhikkus calls for former UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya to be appointed chairman of the new Council, with Sajith Premadasa to be a member of the new leadership body. “The membership of the Council should amount to no more than nine members and the United Bhikku Front will recommend names for the other members of the Council in due course,” the proposal handed over the Wickremesinghe states. The monks are calling for all of these proposals to be implemented within two weeks. “The public will look positively upon this mechanism to restructure the UNP,” the monks’ said in their letter. The United Bhikku Front has been in constant touch with the UNP Leader in writing and in person, regarding the need to unite the party, the letter states. The monks’ proposals were handed over the UNP Leader shortly before he was scheduled to meet with former Deputy Leaders Karu Jayasuriya and Sajith Premadasa on Tuesday evening. Premadasa has claimed he completely endorses the monks’ proposal for UNP reform, but has stopped short of outlining the recommendations so far. Premadasa has also claimed that the monks’ proposal does not include a ‘power sharing’ arrangement with Wickremesinghe.