UNP candidate should have support of broad social coalition – PM

Ranil Wickremesinghe

The UNP presidential candidate cannot win the election with the support of the UNP vote base alone, but will definitely need the support of all other friendly forces in order to win, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has told a group of civil society representatives supportive of the main government party.

“I have told those intending to obtain presidential candidacy from the UNP to come up with a winning formula. We cannot win with the support of the UNP vote base alone. Therefore, a broad programme is required to gain the support of the broader coalition and in order to get their support the candidate needs to come up with a proper workable plan.

We will consider all these aspects and the UNP Working Committee will name the presidential candidate,” the Prime Minister told the civil society representatives, including trade union leaders, at a meeting in Temple Trees yesterday.

Political sources attending the meeting later told the Daily News that the civil society representatives, who make up the pro-democracy alliance that supports the UNF coalition government, discussed with the Prime Minister the question of presidential candidacy, the goal of abolition of the executive presidential system as agreed on in 2015 and, also, the political solution to the ethnic issue in the country.

Expressing his views about the meeting with the Premier, Ven. Dambara Amila Thera said that it was vital to field a candidate who could definitely win the presidential election.

“No matter who is nominated as the presidential candidate, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe should lead and manage the coalition and the election campaign,” he said adding that Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership was vital for a government that would be set up in the future.

Joint Convener of the People’s Collective Movement (Purawesi Ekamuthuwa) Saman Ratnapriya noted that the forthcoming presidential campaign should be based on the theme of abolishing the Executive Presidency. Within a short period after the new president is appointed, the abolition of the presidential executive powers should be completed, he said.

Senior lecturer at the Sri Jayawardanapura University Ven. Dambara Amila Thera, political activist and union leader Dr. Wickramabahu Karunaratne, scholar-painter Prof. Chandraguptha Thenuwara, union leader Saman Ratnapriya, peace activist Dr. Jehan Perera, and social activists Priyadharshini Ariyaratne, Sunil de Silva, Raja Uswetakeiyawa and several other civil society leaders and union leaders participated in this meeting.

(Source: Daily News – By Camelia Nathaniel)