Amid much uncertainty and speculation over the party’s 2020 presidential bid, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has indicated that he may field himself as the United National Party (UNP)’s candidate for the executive presidency, with Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa as his running mate.
A UNP source who wished to remain anonymous told RepublicNext that in a meeting of senior Ministers held at Temple Trees this morning, Wickremesinghe had hinted that he “might run”.
According to the source, Minister Kabir Hashim had suggested at the meeting that Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa is a strong contender for the candidacy, given the large crowds Premadasa has consistently pulled for his public rallies since Badulla.
Other Ministers had, however, opposed this suggestion, arguing that crowds alone were not an indicator of the ability to win a national election.
Some of the Ministers present had then suggested that Wickremesinghe be made the candidate with Premadasa as his prime ministerial candidate, to which the UNP leader responded positively.
There is a possibility of that happening, the Prime Minister had said, but it would have to be taken up with the UNP’s Working Committee, which will make a final decision.
Ministers Lakshman Kiriella, Malik Samarawickrama and Vajira Abeywardena were among those present at the meeting, the source said.