UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa will be officially named as party’s presidential candidate with the blessings of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in a week’s time, Minister Mangala Samaraweera said yesterday. Speaking during a public rally in Matara Mr. Samaraweera said Mr Premadasa will be introduced to the people at a massive rally in Galle Face green soon.
“The whole party will come together to name Premadasa as the candidate. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe will propose Sajith’s name while Speaker Karu Jayasuriya will second it” Mr. Samaraweera said.
He added that constituent parties of the UNF will back Mr Premadasa.
“Accordingly leaders such as Rauff Hakeem, Rishad Bathiudeen, Mano Ganesan and Rajitha Senaratne will back our Deputy Leader,” he said.
Minister Harin Fernando said he and others have decided to back Mr Premadasa following a remark made by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in the past that he will hand over the party to young leaders in 2020.
“Mr Wickremesinghe was the leader of the UNP when I did my GCE O/L exam in 1994 and he is still the leader now when my daughter is about to do her ordinary level exam,” Minister Fernando said. At the same time, he said Mr. Wickremesinghe has been able to safeguard the party during difficult times.
Minister Ajith P Perera in his speech refuted speculations that those who back Mr. Premadasa including him are planning to team up with President Maithripala Sirisena and form a new government.“we don’t have such plans as we only want to field Mr Premadasa as our party’s candidate” he said. (Yohan Perera and Krishan Jeewak Jayaruk)