Sri Lanka’s UNP names Sajith Premadasa presidential candidate
Colombo, Sep. 26 (PTI): Sri Lanka’s ruling United National Party (UNP) on Thursday unanimously named Sajith Premadasa its presidential candidate for the November 16 polls, ending weeks of uncertainty and infighting over the candidacy.
Premadasa, the son of late president Ranasinghe Premadasa, will face Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, a former defence secretary and brother of ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa, from the Sri Lanka People’s Front (SLPP), and Anura Kumara Dissanayake from the leftist Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).
The UNP working committee unanimously decided to name 52-year-old Premadasa, a party spokesman said. His candidature would now be endorsed at the parliamentary group.
Premadasa faced a stiff challenge to become the candidate when the party leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and parliamentary Speaker Karu Jayasuriya also expressed interest to run for the presidency.
Premadasa, the deputy leader of the UNP, held public rallies to urge the party leadership to support him.
His father, a former leader of the UNP was the president of the country between 1989 and 1993. He was assassinated by the LTTE, which ran a militant campaign to carve out a separate Tamil homeland in the island’s north and east provinces.
Premadasa who was seen more closer to grassroots was favoured by the party as Wickremesinghe twice had failed in his presidential bids in 1999 and 2005.
The UNP was forced to nominate two outsiders, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka in 2010 and the incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena in 2015.
The UNP is to announce its broader alliance with its allies soon and Premadasa would be endorsed there as the presidential candidate, UNP officials said.