District UNP heavyweights are promoting former General Secretary
B. Sirisena Cooray as their Mayoral candidate. But, they are
facing opposition from others promoting National Olympic
Committee Chief Hemasiri Fernando, former Ambassador in Teheran
Omar Kamil and the incumbent Deputy Mayor Azath Sally.
The Island learns that MPs, Milinda Moragoda, M.
H. Mohammed and Mohammed Maharoof recently urged UNP leader
Ranil Wickremesinghe to declare Cooray, a former Mayor of
Colombo, as their leading candidate. Wickremesinghe promised to
consider their request, a well informed source said adding that
the UNP leader mentioned Fernando, a former head of the Sri
Lanka Telecom, Kamil and Sally as likely candidates.
Moragoda has sought UNP Deputy Leader Karu
Jayasuriya’s consent. "Jayasuriya is agreeable," the source
said. According to him Cooray would be able to retain the CMC
currently run by the UNP. The former UNP strongman accepted the
challenge, he said.
The tussle for Mayoral boots comes in the
backdrop of the simmering leadership crisis triggered by the
November 17 presidential polls.
Party sources emphasized the need to take a
decision on the Mayoral candidate without engaging in another
Cooray was brought in as the chief organiser for
north-central province weeks ahead of the last presidential
The Island learns that Cooray was promised the
opportunity to lead the party at the elections to the Western
Hemasiri Fernando said that he was ready to
accept the challenge. "Colombo needs a capable administrator,"
he said while assuring an effective administration if he is
given the job.
A party official emphasized the need to avoid a
mini-battle over the CMC referring to the leadership crisis.
The UNP is contemplating abolishing the post of
party Chairman as part of the blue-print to resolve the
leadership crisis. The post is currently held by business
magnate Malik Samarawickrema, a Wickremesinghe loyalist.
The party is planning to name Imitiaz Bakeer
Markar, a former MP, as the General Secretary of the Party, a
post currently held by N. V. K. K. Weragoda, a former Cabinet
Secretary. Wickremesinghe who would continue to retain the posts
of UNP leader and Opposition Leader would implement the agreed
reforms without delay.
Under the proposed reforms, the UNP would expand
the Political Affairs Committee to 15 from 12 at present with
the leader, deputy leader and General Secretary as ex-officio
officer bearers. The remaining 12 appointments would be made
jointly by the leader and the deputy.
The Political Affairs Committee would make
appointments to the Working Committee. Jayasuriya is to be named
the Executive President with the authority to implement the
action programme aimed at regaining lost ground.