Ranil Steps Down As UNP Leader
By Nabiya Vaffoor and Upatissa Perera
UNP Leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has decided to step down as UNP Leader after being in the position for 26 consecutive years, UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam announced yesterday (10).
A final decision on appointing a new UNP Leader will be taken tomorrow (12), after discussing with the Party’s Working Committee and the Parliamentary Group, he added. The UNP General Secretary went on to state that although Media reports said that senior UNP members including himself, Ravi Karunanayake, Daya Gamage, Vajira Abeywardena and Navin Dissanayake were pursuing the UNP Leader post, Dissanayake had withdrawn from this battle.
Internal sources from Sirikotha said, Gamage had stated, during a meeting held yesterday morning regarding the Party’s future, that he would not pursue the UNP Leader post if a unanimous decision regarding the leadership cannot be taken. According to the source, the UNP Leader had asked Karunanayake, Kariyawasam and Abeywardena to discuss and reach a decision regarding the Party leadership and inform him of that decision tomorrow morning.
Meanwhile, it was reported that Karunanayake, Arjuna Ranatunga, Palitha Range Bandara, Kithsiri Manchanayake, Ronald Perera and Kasturi Anuradhanayake had a discussion with Karu Jayasuriya at his residence.
They had requested Jayasuriya to accept the Party leadership in the interim to avoid the Party from plunging into a crisis, to which Jayasuriya had reportedly agreed. It was also reported that Jayasuriya will meet Wickremesinghe to discuss this matter. However, when inquired about this, Jayasuriya said that he had asked for 72 hours to take a decision in this connection.Wickremesinghe, who entered Parliament in 1977 from the Biyagama seat, was a Member of Parliament for 43 years. He lost his seat in Parliament for the first time after his defeat at the General Election last week.
(Additional reporting by Ruwantha Nithulgaspitiya and S. Ekanayake)