UNP reforms

Reformists confident, Sajith keeps his options open

By Shamindra Ferdinando

With the UNP planning to sanction a new Constitution unanimously for the party on Dec. 12, the stage is now set for the ‘Reformists’ to take on the Wickremesinghe Camp in an intense political battle, which may end by late April next year.

Political sources say contrary to recent reports in a section of the media, the ‘Reformists’ group is confident of taking control of the situation. Those who asserted that that Reformists’ campaign had collapsed, due to the UNP Working Committee rejecting MP Sajith Premadasa’s proposal to expand the Electoral College, were wrong, sources say.

Responding to a query by The Island, sources said that at the Dec. 12 special sessions at Sirikotha the Working Committee would be converted into an interim body and given a 120-day deadline to choose the Party Leader (Ranil Wickremesinghe), Assistant Leader (post vacant/last held by Rukman Senanayake), National Organiser (post vacant/last held by S. B. Dissanayake), Treasurer (Senarath Kapukotuwa) and Deputy Leader (Karu Jayasuriya).

If the Working Committee could not reach a unanimous decision, there is provision for the 43-member UNP parliamentary group to join the process, sources said. In the event they couldn’t reach consensus, a secret ballot would be called with members of the Working Committee and the parliamentary group acting as the Electoral College.

There are several vacancies on the Working Committee.

Sources close to Premadasa told The Island that he would keep his options open.

Sources claimed that MP Premadasa had the backing of at least a dozen MPs in the parliamentary group and a sizeable support among Working Committee members, though Opposition Leader Wickremesinghe commanded the support of the majority of Working Committee members for the moment.

Sources said that the Reformists had the option to vie for all five posts or only a few of them. They said that once the new appointments were made, the party leader would appoint a new General Secretary and 20 members, including three women to the 91-member Working Committee.

Subsequently, another special session would be called to ratify the new appointments and the major change in the proposed constitution was that the party leader wouldn’t enjoy dictatorial power to remain in office unless he/she had the confidence of the Working Committee, sources said.

The selection will be an annual affair and those holding top posts will not be able to ignore the Working Committee and parliamentary group.

Sources speculated that even if Premadasa might not ask for a secret ballot early next year, he would be still eyeing a top post, which could be the stepping stone to the leadership in a year or two. They said that the next three months would see a series of meetings to settle differences among Working Committee and parliamentary group members to adhere to the 120-day timeframe.


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