UNP rebels demand SB or Sajith as presidential
There were enough heavyweights within the United National Party to contest the forthcoming presidential election and there was ample time to field one of them, UNP Kurunegala District Parliamentarian Johnston Fernando told the media yesterday in Colombo.
Ranil Wickremesinghe knew that he could not win an election, Fernando said. "Bringing in General Sarath Fonseka by sacrificing the party symbol to safeguard his position was a situation similar to making Gamini Dissanayake the presidential candidate in 1994," he said.
UNP Deputy leader, S. B. Dissanayake and UNP Assistant Leader Sajith Premadasa were among eligible candidates. If they were given the opportunity they would contest the election, Fernando said.
"We earnestly request Wickremesinghe to stop talking about democracy and abolishing the executive presidency at this juncture and to restore the UNP’s internal democracy, Fernando said.
He said he was aware of plots being hatched against him because the majority of those at Sirikotha were with him. He said he had reliable information that there was a conspiracy to boo and stone him and former Mayor Azath Salley at today’s (December 5) UNP Convention. Surprisingly, Wickremesinghe, who did not like to see anyone else’s name on the agenda, had permitted SB to speak. "We also have information that if SB changes his stance on Fonseka, he will be attacked by the goons from Matara," he added.
Fernando said he had not yet decided whether to attend the convention or not.
Former UNP Mayor Azath Salley said that he vehemently opposed Sarath Fonseka’s candidacy because he could not work with a person who had been critical of the rights of minorities.
Salley said that Wickremesinghe was the only political leader who was against the progress of Muslims other than Cader from Kandy. "That’s why Cader said at the Executive Committee meeting, he would take Fonseka on his shoulders to Kandy, regardless of his statements against minorities," Salley said.