By Kshanika Argent
Leader of the United National Party (UNP) Ranil Wickramasingha says he will not step down as the party leader despite the UNP losing the recent General Elections and attributes his party’s defeat on the electoral system and not a lack of faith in him.
Speaking to reporters at a press briefing in Colombo a short while ago, the UNP leader said that he will step down “when the time is right” and that now the party has a responsibility towards the voters who decided not to cast their vote.
He says that although the government was elected it had no clear mandate as most of the people had decided to avoid casting their votes. Election monitors had said that this was the worst voter turnout in recent times.
The UNP leader noted that usually approximately 75.9 % of the registered voters cast their votes in parliamentary polls but this time it was only 56 %, despite there being peace in the country with the end of the war last year.
Meanwhile, leader of the SLFP (M) Wing and UNF Party Secretary Mangala Samarawera stated, “Throughout history, some of the most brutal, anti democratic and dictatorial regimes have been brought into existence not by extremists but by the inactive silence of the vast majority."
Samarawera explained, “If you look at the number of votes against the UPFA and the number that abstained from voting it is clear that 45% of our population are against the present regime. We know that there are moves underway to silence the media, and to control the internet and we hope that this regime does not manipulate the constitution to legitimize their dictatorial ambitions.”
It was also stated that the UNP is going to push for the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in order to protect the civilian population and media rights.
ICCPR is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial. (Daily Mirror online).