Leader of the United National Party Ranil Wickramasinghe has decided to give Sajith Premadasa and 98 others whose party memberships were suspended yesterday seven days to respond. According to sources Wickramasinghe had said the group, which has handed nominations for the upcoming elections under the banner of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya will be given one week’s time to respond after they are handed over the letters of suspension from the party. If no response is received then a disciplinary inquiry will be held prior to taking other steps against them, he had added.
Wickramasinghe had said this in response to calls from within the party working committee to remove the group from the UNP outright. However, Wickramasinghe had said the party constitution and procedures must be adhered to at all times.
The UNP working committee unanimously approved the suspension of the party memberships of Saith Premadasa and 98 others for handing over nominations from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya. Included in this list are senior politicians Lakshman Kiriella, Thalatha Athukorale, Kabir Hashim, Mangala Samaraweera, Gayantha Karunathilake, and Ranjith Maddumabandara.
The proposal to remove the group was presented by the General Secretary of the UNP Akila Viraj Kariyawasam. The working committee meeting commenced at 11 am at Sirikotha yesterday with the participation of nearly 40 members.
Wickramasinghe had gone on to say the group must be given a chance as they have understood their mistakes now and therefore be given the chance to rejoin the party. However, sources said some party members had not been agreeable to allowing the group to return to the UNP.
Meanwhile, following revelations that the Samagi Jana Balawegaya has managed to take over a number of UNP unions, a decision had been taken to grant the power to Wickramasinghe to appoint new leaders for these unions.