UNP Convention at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium: UNP pledges era of transition | Sunday Observer

UNP Convention at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium: UNP pledges era of transition

Leaders of the UNP led coalition at the inauguration of the special convention at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on Thursday
Leaders of the UNP led coalition at the inauguration of the special convention at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on Thursday

The proposal moved by UNP Leader, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the UNP’s special Convention themed ‘a new era of transition’ held at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on Thursday (3) ratified the nomination of UNP Deputy Leader and Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs Minister Sajith Premadasa as the United National Front (UNF) Presidential Candidate.

Five more proposals presented by UNP General Secretary, Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam were also ratified amidst a massive gathering comprising UNP stalwarts, provincial politicians, party supporters, electoral organisers and other party leaders of the UNP led coalition.

Premier Wickremesinghe who accompanied Minister Premadasa’s mother Hema Premadasa to the stage, sought the approval of the party members for the decision taken to field UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa as the 2019 Presidential Candidate which was unanimously endorsed.

The UNP Working Committee at a meeting held recently unanimously agreed to nominate UNP Deputy Leader, Minister Premadasa as the Presidential Candidate of the UNF. At the Thursday’s convention Minister Premadasa’s name was unanimously approved by the UNP and all other constituent parties under the UNF banner. According to the UNP constitution, the candidate nominated by the Working Committee has to be approved at a party convention.

The proposal previously endorsed by the UNP Working Committee on September 26, 2019 which includes power devolution, electoral reforms and continuation of the constitutional reform process commenced by the Government, was unanimously approved at the convention. A proposal to ratify the Working Committee decision of January 24, 2019 on appointing Ranil Wickremesinghe as Party Leader was also approved. Another proposal to commend Speaker Karu Jayasuriya for his courage and steadfastness during the 52 day political coup upholding parliamentary democracy was also approved. A proposal to make the forthcoming Presidential Election a platform to elect a Parliament with majority power to contain reactionary elements was approved. In addition, the proposal to provide adequate time to political victims whose claims have been misplaced to resubmit their complaints and empower the respective Ministers to expedite and facilitate relief for political victims was also approved.

Speaking at the convention, UNP Leader, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said as the party leader he would not leave any room to create divisions in the party. The Premier said on occasions, some issues cropped up due to divisions within the party, but at each such instance, steps were taken to safeguard the party without leading to any splits. The Prime Minister stressed the importance of everybody making collaborative efforts to secure victory of Sajith Premadasa.

He said the UNP lost party stalwart Gamini Dissanayake and many other senior party leaders and added that he was the only survival in the party. “As the party leader, the first challenge before me was to create a new leadership within the party. However, a leadership cannot be created all at once and it takes some time to complete the process.”

The Premier said the UNP has been able to produce a group of energetic young leaders to take over the country’s future and added that UNP Presidential Candidate Premadasa is one of such leaders.

He said after the demise of his father, Sajith Premadasa entered the mainstream politics being elected as a Member of Parliament for the Hambantota district and later he became a Deputy Minister, Deputy Leader of the party and a Minister. “In 1991, Ranasinghe Premadasa was nominated as the Presidential Candidate at the Sugathadasa Stadium and as fate dictated, I had the opportunity to nominate his son as the Presidential Candidate at the same venue.”

He called upon the partymen not to give up power once it is captured. It should be further strengthened. It should be done by the people and they should extend their support to it, he said.

Premier Wickremesinghe said during the short tenure in office, the Government has done a lot, such as salary increases, fuel price reductions, health and education sector improvements and housing and road construction. He said they will continue to serve the people even better under a UNP led UNF Government and a President. The Premier said they have only two more steps to reach their goal, one is to win the Presidential Election and the other to establish a UNF Government with at least 125 MPs. Then we will lead the country to prosperity, he said.

UNP Deputy Leader and Presidential aspirant Sajith Premadasa said he got the opportunity to run for the Presidential Election 2019 as the UNP has a leader who makes sacrifices and the support rendered by the party’s Working Committee as well as the historic encouragement given by the people. “Speaker Karu Jayasuriya also gave his blessings to my journey, and it is my duty to remember him as a leader who made a big sacrifice on behalf of the party,” he said.

He said in 1993, his father late President Ranasinghe Premadasa sacrificed his life on behalf of the country and the party. In 2019, after 26 years, I have got the blessings of my party and the UNF to accept the prime responsibility of the country’s leadership. I will go for the November 16 Presidential Election with the blessings of the people to ‘place the crown of development on the citizenry.’ Minister Premadasa pledged that he would devote his political career to serve the people.

Minister Premadasa said a national agenda and a new vision that centralises the public and home-based families will be brought forth through a new ideology and a new national work plan. He pledged that no room will be given for family bandyism under the new Government that would be established following his victory. If the country wants to move towards prosperity, family bandyism should be done away with. He said the country needs professionals and skilled people to handle the state mechanism for the wellbeing of the people.

Minister Premadasa said he would enter into a transparent social agreement with the 22 million people in the country and promised to bring prosperity to their feet.

He pledged to usher in a technological revolution and added that opportunities would be given to the people of every party of the country and not for the affluent. My intention is to create equal opportunities which would enable all to reap benefits of our efforts. Minister Premadasa said women will experience a golden era under their new Government to be set up and special emphasis will be laid on providing nutritional and other benefits to children and women. He assured no agreements harmful to the country will be signed under his Government.

“The need of the hour is to create a strong Sri Lanka, and I will commit my political career to accomplish this task. My father worked for the people and laid down his life for the sake of the people. Like my father, I will commit my life to serve the people.”

UNP Chairman, Minister Kabir Hashim in his welcome address said Party Leader, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made a great sacrifice to make that groundbreaking decision. He said on November 17, the country would see a UNP President after 2005. “We have come to this point after a long struggle,” he said.

UNP General Secretary, Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said, “We should extend our gratitude to the Prime Minister for his attempts to unify the party without allowing splits. We all should unconditionally work to make Sajith Premadasa the President.

UNP National Organiser, Minister Navin Dissanayake said after 14 years, a UNP Presidential Candidate has been nominated. We would commit ourselves to ensure the victory of Sajith Premadasa. The UNP is the party which has safeguarded the internal democracy and that is how prominent leaders like Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali, Ranasinghe Premadasa and Ranil Wickremesinghe were brought to the political arena, he said.