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For the first time in 62 yrs an election sans ‘Elephant’ and ‘Green’, SB tells Ranil
Pandemonium mars UNPWC meeting: Fonseka endorsed
Johnston, Indika, Sally take on Ranil, refuse to campaign
Sajith a notable absentee at the stormy session
Vajira remains mum, leaves meeing unnoticed
99% of my voters want Sarath, not Ranil
– UNP chairman

Even though it was widely expected that yesterday’s Working Committee meeting of the UNP, held at the Party headquarters Sirikotha in Kotte, would go smoothly as everything had been finalized to field Gen. (Retd) Sarath Fonseka as the common candidate of the opposition, pandemonium reigned as speaker after speaker registered their protests at the deterioration of the Grand Old Party.

UNP National Organiser S. B. Dissanayake pointing his finger at party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said that it was Wickremesinghe and Wickremesinghe alone who was responsible for bringing the UNP to the position where it was not in a position to field a presidential candidate of its own, and for bringing about a situation where over 40 of the 82 UNP parliamentarians elected in the 2004 had defected to the government.

Johnston Fernando, Indika Bandaranayake and Asath Sally voted against the resolutuion approving Gen (Retd) Fonseka as the common candidate and declared that they would not be participating in the election campaign. Vajira Abeywardena, a usually vociferous supporter of whatever the party leader did was silent during the Working Committee meeting.

Sajith Premadasa did not attend the meeting at all. His absence was interpreted by party sources as a mark of protest.

Despite the gravity of the decision that was to be made at the yesterday’s Working Committee meeting it was poorly attended with participation of only around 65 percent of its members.

UNP National Organiser SB Dissanayake stressed the fact that it was the first time in 62 years since the inception of the party, that the UNP was going to participate at an election without the elephant symbol or the green (party colour).

Protesting MPs demanded to know from the UNP leadership what party Fonseka would contest from at the presidential election. There were no answers.

According to sources, amidst the din one MP was heard accusing the UNP leader of total capitulation to the JVP, which demanded that Fonseka enter the fray from a party other than the UNP, under a symbol other than the elephant and with a colour other than green.

The Working Committee meeting started around 11 a.m. at Srikotha, the UNP headquarters continued until 1.30 p.m. Contrary to the speculation the UNP Working Committee did not take up the conditions UNP leader Wickremesinghe had put forth for ratifying Fonseka’s candidacy. They are that Gen. Fonseka has to agree to appoint a caretaker government with Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister in the event of his election; United National Front, the JVP and the Tamil National Alliance should be agreeable to Gen. Fonseka’s candidature; Gen Fonseka has to make some pledges in public regarding the abolition of the executive presidency and the resettlement of IDPs; General Fonseka to make a prior announcement that he would assign important portfolios to the JVP and TNA in the proposed caretaker government and Fonseka should pledge that he would do away with the Emergency Regulations and ensure the full implementation of the 17th Amendment.

The JVP insists that it will not support Fonseka if he undertakes to appoint Ranil Wickremesinghe the Prime Minister of a caretaker Cabinet in the event of his victory.

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