The selection of the UNP’s presidential candidate would take some more time as the TNA, yesterday, has said it is not ready to accept Sajith Premadasa as the candidate of the coalition to be formed.
The TNA has pointed out that Premadasa will not get the votes in the North and the East as his position on the national question is not clear.
Ministers Dr Rajitha Senaratne, Mangala Samaraweera and Malik Samarawickrama met with TNA members R. Sampanthan and MA Sumanthiran at the Minister Samaraweera’s residence, yesterday, to discuss matters pertaining to the formation of the UNF and naming its presidential candidate. The meeting commenced around 11 am and lasted for nearly one and a half hours.
Minister Samaraweera pointed out that Premadasa commanded the support of the majority of the UNP’s rank and file and that majority had already endorsed his candidacy. The UNP would soon nominate Premadasa as their nominee to the UNF and the minority and minor parties should ensure his victory.
The TNA members, however, responded that Premadasa did not have proper understanding of the national problem and not proposed a solution.
Minister Samaraweera then said that Sumanthiran was against Premadasa and had been able to get other TNA members to oppose Premadasa’s candidacy.
MP Sumanthiran, however, rejected Minister Samaraweera’s accusation and said that his party was not swayed by an opinion of a single individual. The talks between the TNA and Premadasa so far have not been successful. Premadasa could not respond clearly to the TNA’s question as to what the Tamil electors in the North and East would get by voting for him.
Asked to explain what the Tamil electors would expect, the TNA members responded that they would not expect anything more than what had been promised as solutions by former Presidents Chandrika Kumaratunga, in 2000, and Mahinda Rajapaksa later at an All-Party Conference.
The TNA said it was ready to support Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe came forward as the presidential candidate, for he had a clear understanding of the national problem and had been consistent in his opinion for years on the matter of solving the national problem, Sampanthan said at the meeting.
The TNA agreed to meet Premadasa again.
Addressing a meeting of leaders of civil society and trade union representatives at Temple Trees yesterday, the Prime Minister pointed out the UNP’s vote base would not be enough for anyone to win the next presidential election.
The Prime Minister had said that the party’s Working Committee would pick the Presidential candidate of the UNP and that nomination would finally have to be approved by the UNF’s leadership council.
(Source: The Island – By Saman Indrajith)