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UNP to shift gears on 1 July, make Champika, others UNF organisers

Image credit: akilaviraj.com

With the upcoming presidential elections just months away, the United National Party (UNP) is set to lay the groundwork for its election campaign starting 1 July and, as a first step, organisers will be appointed to both the UNP and the United National Front (UNF), Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said.

“Following discussions between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and UNF Cabinet Ministers at Temple Trees, we have decided to start working towards our election campaign on 1 July for a presidential election or otherwise,” he told journalists at UNP headquarters at Sirikotha today (21).

A number of rallies will be held in Colombo and elsewhere with the objective of securing a UNP presidency as well as a UNP government, said Kariyawasam.

The UNP’s Working Committee has been informed, he said, that when party organisers convene next week, new organisers will be appointed to both the UNP as well as the UNF, the coalition headed by the party.

The appointment of UNF partner-MPs who are not UNP members as party organisers has generated much controversy within the party hierarchy, with UNP stalwarts reportedly being bitterly critical of the move. Legal barriers have also stood in the way of appointing the likes of Minister Champika Ranawaka of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU).

Minister Kariyawasam confirmed that both Ranawaka and Vijith Wijayamuni de Soyza, among others, will be appointed as UNF organisers.

“Minister Champika is an asset, we have to agree,” he said, responding to questions about remarks made by the Megapolis & Western Development Minister.

The UNP will form a broad alliance in the run up to the polls, Kariyawasam went on to say, adding that the presidential candidate will be announced when the time is right.

“Pohottuwa (the Sri Lanka Podujana Party) hasn’t officially announced its candidate either. There are all sorts of internal struggles there, about which member of the family should inherit power. We will announce our candidate – who will be a UNP candidate – once the election is officially announced,” he said.