Focusing on the future prospects of the United National Party (UNP), Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today it was time to prepare a third level of leaders to take over the party when the senior leaders retire.
“We have already established a second level leadership. It is now time to have a third and fourth level leadership because we will also have to retire one day," he told party organizers in the Southern Province.
"The new leaders will have to take over so that we the senior leaders can rest and come out only during the election time," the Prime Minister said.
He recalled that former president J R Jayewardene, who took over the party in 1973, initiated a second level leader in former president R. Premadsa and third level leaders such as Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake.
“It was like a three-wheeler with Mr. Premadsa at the front and Mr. Athulathmudali and Mr. Dissanayake at the rear with me was the spare wheel. Mr. Athulathmudali and Mr. Dissanayake left the party while Mr Premadasa was killed resulting in the party being run on a spare wheel for 20 years," the PM said.
He said the party would be revamped by the time it celebrated its 70th anniversary and added that a membership drive would be launched before April this year.
Ministers Sajith Premadasa, Sagala Ratnayake, Vajira Abeywardena and Dilip Wedaarachchi were present when the premier spoke about the future of the UNP party.
He said it was essential to continue the national government so as to resolve the burning issues of the country. “We will have to make the best use of the alliance between the two main political parties and as such don't not criticize us for allying with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP),” he said.
"We could be proud of this government only if we are able to resolve the burning issues faced by the people and the country," he said.“I know that UNPers have issues and I cannot resolve those by just signing a document." (Yohan Perera)
Pix by Pradeep pathirana