In a move to resurrect main opposition United National Party, the deputy leader of the party Karu Jayasuriya has agreed to take the leadership of the party on an invitation made by the co-deputy leader Sajith Premadasa.
Premadasa yesterday invited deputy leader Jayasuriya to take over the party leadership in order to unify all forces within the party and take it on a path to victory.
Premadasa made this request from Jayasuriya during a meeting this morning that was attended by parliamentarians, provincial councilors and members of associations affiliated to the party who have been pushing for the implementation of reforms in the UNP.
The co-deputy leader said that he had a group of party members that had requested Jayasuriya to intervene and prevent further deterioration of the party.
Jayasuriya according to Premadasa had given a positive response to the proposal.
Addressing the media, he said that the meeting with Jayasuriya was the beginning of a process to unify the party.
He said the main aim of the move was to convert the party into a winning force that could help salvage the country from the downward path it is treading under the current administration.
“As an opposition, we have a great task and responsibility to salvage the country from its current plight,” said Premadasa.
“The opposition needs to be organised and mobilised with a vision accepted by the people,” he added.
“The result of this election is a perfect testimony to the UNP’s present position. The time has come for us to decide whether we are going to allow the party to fade off or we rebuild it into a vibrant one,” Premadasa said.
He observed that the results of the last local government elections indicated that the opposition had not done its duty by the people.
Premadasa noted that efforts to introduce party reforms and the passing of a new party constitution although aimed at unifying the party had resulted in the pro-reformists being politically victimised.
UNP parliamentarian Mangala Samaraweera yesterday said that internal conflicts in the party resulted in its defeat at the recently concluded local government elections.
Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is currently in the United Kingdom to participate in the 57th round of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Council.
In a statement UNP Deputy Leader Jayasuriya said: A group of senior UNP members and parliamentarians met with me this morning to emphasise the need for a change in the party.
They informed me that at a time when Sri Lanka is facing grave challenges both locally and internationally, where corruption is dominating all branches of government, it is of critical importance that the main opposition emerges strong and free of division and intra-party conflict.
When I entered the public service, as a member of the UNP, I vowed to always work towards the greater common good, to put the country first, party second and myself last in any equation. I have always been a firm believer in party unity and the need for a cohesive approach to governance issues that encompasses the true will of the Sri Lankan people. For these reasons, I have always maintained that I would gladly give up any positions if it were the will of the party majority and if it would benefit the UNP in the long term. Similarly, if it is the fervent wish of a significant majority, and a majority who commands significant popular support among the Sri Lankan people, I must also be willing to accept any challenge put before me and do whatever is in my power to accept their support to unite and take the party forward.