The factions of the United National Party (UNP) agreed to form the National Democratic Front (NDF) with the like-minded parties, but would retain the discretionary right to nominate the presidential candidate, the Daily Mirror learns.
However, the nominated candidate has to be endorsed by the Leadership Council of the NDF once formed.
The UNP factions and the leaders of the other parties sat together at the residence of Health Minister Dr. Ranjith Senaratne on Saturday.
Party’s General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Power and Energy Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, Higher Education Minister Rauff Hakeem and National Integration, Official Languages and Social Progress Minister Mano Ganeshan, Transport Minister Arjuna Ranatunga, Highways, Road Development and Petroleum Resources Minister Kabir Hashim attended the meeting.
Minister Samaraweera is reported to have stressed that Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs Minister Sajith Premadasa should be named the presidential candidate ahead of the formation of the NDF.
Dr. Senaratne said the UNP had every right to handpick someone for candidacy, but the chosen person should be able to muster the support of the parties such as the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to win the elections.
A minister who attended the meeting said the alliance would be formed within the next two or three weeks.
“The UNP can nominate the candidate, but it has to be approved by the Leadership Council of the NDF,” he said. (Kelum Bandara)