LNP – News Ranil stays put as UNP leader

Vajira new Chairman, Ravi, Naveen not among new office-bearers

No decision yet on NL slot

The UNP Working Committee yesterday (13) unanimously appointed former Galle District lawmaker Vajira Abeywardena the party Chairman.

The WC met at Sirikotha under the leadership of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. The meeting lasted for about one hour.

Abeywardena succeeded Kabir Hashim, who switched his allegiance to the then UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa in the run-up to the last parliamentary polls in August 2020, which they contested from the new party they formed, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya.

Premadasa now leads the breakaway UNP faction SJB, which was immediately recognised by the Election Commission.

Among other key appointments WC reached consensus on were Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene, General Secretary Range Bandara, Assistant Leader Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Treasurer attorney-at-law Misbah??, Senior Deputy Chairman former minister D.M. Swaminathan and three Deputy Chairpersons, former ministers Sagala Ratnayake, Daya Gamage and Sunethra Ranasinghe.

However, defeated Colombo District candidate at the last parliamentary election Ranil Wickremesinghe retained the leadership, while the party still refrained from naming its solitary National List MP though some sections of the media speculated that former Gampaha District MP and former State Defence Minister Wijewardena would receive it. Ironically the newly formed breakaway rival SJB won 54 seats, including seven National List slots.

Sagala Ratnayake did not contest the last general election.

Interestingly former MP Navin Dissanayake, who served as the National Organizer of the party is not among those who received appointments yesterday. Former Assistant Leader Ravi Karunanayake, too, had been left out, political sources said, pointing out that former minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne was also not among the recipients of positions in the party.

Other appointments were Deputy General Secretary Nalaka Kolonne, Assistant Secretary former lawmaker Anoma Gamage, Chairman policy and research former Minister and ex-Ambassador in China Karunasena Kodituwakku, Legal Secretary Nissanka Nanayakkara, PC, international affairs and Local Government former MP Sandith Samarasinghe and head of Finance Committee former lawmaker Ananda Kularatna.

Abeywardena, the first UNPer from the South to receive the Chairmanship entered parliament in 1994 after having served three terms as a Southern provincial Councillor since 1988. Abeywardena retained his parliamentary seat till his defeat at the last general election in which the party failed to win a single seat. The UNP is yet to reach consensus on its single National List slot.

Political sources said that the post of the National Organizer remained vacant and there was likelihood of the party reaching an understanding with the former minister Navin Dissanayake????. Sources said that in spite of some disagreements, efforts to re-build the party were continuing.

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