SJB National Campaign Organiser and former State Minister for Finance Eran Wickramaratne
- Will prioritise promoting democracy, protecting 19A
- SJB alleges “illegal” efforts being made to secure seat for UNP Leader
By Asiri Fernando
The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) yesterday said the party was ready to fulfil the role of the main Opposition in the 9th Parliament, which will meet on 20 August, and would prioritise protecting democracy.
SJB National Campaign Organiser and former State Minister for Finance Eran Wickramaratne told Daily FT that the party was ready to represent the public, and uphold the mandate they have given the party at the polls.
"We are a party that is a few months old, and we have emerged as the main Opposition. We will represent the people and uphold the faith they have placed in us, particularly to ensure that democracy and the 19th Amendment is protected,” Wickramaratne said.
The SJB also alleged that a team of “UNP legal experts” were attempting to illegally influence the counting of ballots in Colombo, in order to secure a seat for UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Issuing a press release, SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara said that the party had lodged strong protest regarding the incident with the Election Commission, and is planning to take legal action against the act. The SJB was formed on a directive by the United National Party (UNP) Working Committee in February 2020, after a prolonged struggle within the UNP to change its leadership. The SJB, headed by Sajith Premadasa, attracted many UNP parliamentarians to their ranks, compounding the long-running battle for leadership between Premadasa and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. The UNP suspended the membership of UNPers who supported the SJB and sought nominations from the new political entity. Both the UNP and the SJB took the membership suspension to courts, where the courts upheld the UNP decision to suspend the membership of 102 members.
Subsequently, the UNP moved to terminate the memberships of those who they had suspended.
The SJB has said they will appeal the court's decision, and that they will work to overturn the membership terminations after the General Elections.