COLOMBO | Thursday September 26, 2019 | NewsLanka | by Claude Gunasekera |Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe proposed UNP deputy leader, Minister Sajith Premadasa as their (United National Party) Presidential candidate. The nomination was unanimously approved during the UNP Working Committee meeting and the Parliament Committee held at Sirikotha today.
S.B. Nawinne pledges support to UNP Presidential Candidate Sajith Premadasa
Colombo (News 1st): UNP MP S.B. Nawinne, who distanced himself from the party for some time, rejoined the party and pledged his support to the Presidential Candidate of the United National Party Sajith Premadasa. He made this announcement during a media briefing at Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s official residence in Colombo. Deputy Leader Minister Sajith Premadasa and several other representatives of the UNP attended the media briefing.
During the meeting, UNP MP S.B. Nawinne noted that Sri Lanka Freedom Party had a victorious political journey of 35 years. He added that if he joins this party, they can be victorious and nobody will worry about differences when supporting him during the election. He went onto note that he made this decision based on his honesty, humbleness, skills and the willingness to serve the country. He said Sajith Premadasa will be a president at a younger age and noted that he will do his best to make him win.
Journalists questioned UNP Presidential Candidate Sajith Premadasa regarding the symbol being used. They noted that people question as to why the symbol of the swan is used and not elephant. However, Minister Premadasa noted that no one questions regarding the symbol has been raised and pointed out that was the same in 2015 and 2010.
When questioned if there is a program to seek assistance from Sri Lankans living abroad, he noted that people living in Sri Lanka as well as in foreign countries know how he carried out his duties as a minister. He added that he is open to anybody who is accepting the principle and the policy agenda that he believes in.
Journalist: Some officials who are having corruption charges are trying to join up with you.
Sajith Premadasa: I have not heard anyone with corruption charges trying to join up with me.
Journalist: If someone comes?
Sajith Premadasa: Yeah if those politicians have been convicted in a court of law or in any tribunal that they have implemented misdeeds or misdemeanors, certainly I would not encourage them. I don’t have heaps of dollars to carry out my campaigning activities. So my only hope is the assistance of the people of this country.
Journalists raised questions about controversial ACSA, SOFA and MCC agreements. He noted that as far as international agreements are concerned, as, with any other policy decision, the first most priority is the national interest. Therefore, he noted that he would have a fresh look at all international political agreements, economic agreements, trade agreements and will have a very transparent procedure where-by we enlist the support of all stakeholders including specialists in those particular topics, we shall do a very thorough cost-benefit analysis. He added that if the benefits outweigh the costs that will be government policy and socio-economic, political, trade, politico security, defence all those will be included.
Journalists also raised questions about the plans of Presidential Candidate Sajith Premadasa after he gets elected as the President.
I think the major changes that I would be making is ensuring that the taxpayers’ rupees are less spent on the executive and I will use the bare minimum and what is necessary for me to carry out the duties and the rest of the funding will go to the peoples’ development-oriented development agendas. That is the very first thing I’ll do.”
Journalist: You mentioned about a system to punish wrongdoers. Will you act against those who are accused of corruption in the past?
Sajith Premadasa: I’m working on a mechanism to prevent corruption from taking place without political interference. It doesn’t matter if this happened in the past or outdated.
Premadasa rejects UNP leader’s offer of ‘conditional’ support
By Chandani Kirinde
Offers of conditional support by the UNP leadership to its Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa to win endorsement as a presidential candidate at the party’s Working Committee (WC) meeting scheduled for today hit a snag after the latter said he would not be bound by conditions under any circumstances.
“I am not anyone’s puppet or a scarecrow. I will only be guided by my conscience. I will say clearly that Sajith Premadasa will not agree to any cowardly political conditions. The days of dancing like puppets on strings are over,” the UNP Deputy Leader told a public rally last evening in Matugama.
Premadasa’s public rejection came hours after Temple Trees announced the “positive” outcome of a meeting held between UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and senior members of the party. While Premadasa was not present at the meeting, Ministers Kabir Hashim, Malik Samarawickrama and Ranjith Madduma Bandara, who staunchly support his candidature, were present.
Sources close to Wickremesinghe said the UNP leader had agreed to support Premadasa to get the unanimous support of the WC to be named the United National Party’s (UNP) candidate for the upcoming presidential election but it came with conditions attached.
The proposal on the table was for Premadasa to be the presidential candidate while Wickremesinghe would remain party leader and would also be the UNP’s prime ministerial candidate at the next general election, party sources said.
Premadasa would have also had to stand for the abolition of the Executive Presidency, the same platform on which the UNP-backed Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena contested the 2015 presidential election. Furthermore, he would have had to give an undertaking that the laws pertaining to the abolition of the Executive Presidency would be tabled in Parliament within a specified timeframe and put to a referendum for approval by the people.
The proposal was to have Premadasa’s name ratified by the UNP WC today and then the resolution was to be submitted to the United National Front (UNF) and the proposed Democratic National Alliance Leadership Council for approval.
However, Premadasa’s public rejection of any conditional offers of support is likely to once again cause internal divisions within the pro-Wickremesinghe and pro-Premadasa groups of the UNP.