After days of bickering, the United National Party (UNP) Working Committee (WC) today unanimously endorsed the party’s deputy leader, Minister Sajith Premadasa as the presidential candidate.
The decision was taken with barely two weeks to go for nominations. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe proposed the name of Mr. Premadasa as the presidential candidate and asked whether there were any other name or names being proposed.
With no other name being proposed, the Working Committee endorsed Mr. Premadasa's name as the presidential candidate.
As traditionally done, the UNP will have its annual convention on October 3 to ratify the decision taken by the Working Committee.
There were weeks of wrangling between Mr. Premadasa and the Prime Minister over the presidential candidacy with one faction of the party conducting public rallies at various parts of the country to galvanize the UNP's rank and file to ensure Mr. Premadasa's candidacy.
Later, the political parties aligned with the UNP -- Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, All Ceylon Makkal Congress, Jathika Hela Urumaya and Tamil Progressive Front - also expressed their support for Mr. Premadasa.
In the wake of such developments, the senior leaders of the UNP, backing both the factions, sat together with the Prime Minister on Tuesday and decided to field Mr. Premadasa as the presidential candidate. The party leadership, however, sought a written commitment from him to advocate the UNP policy to scrap executive presidency, to devolve power to the periphery and to evolve electoral reforms.
Later, Mr. Premadasa said Lead he would not be bound by any condition in seeking presidential candidacy. However, the party passed a resolution to this effect at the Working Committee today. (Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera)