History always speaks of the role of women in times of deep crisis and despair. Therefore we reach out to you during this very critical time in our country. Well documented allegations of corruption by those in high office is rampant, unprecedented and mounting. The very fabric of our nation is deteriorating. We lack moral authority and sincere political intervention. The silence of the United National Party and its leadership is deafening. As a feminist and an advocate of gender equality, we believe that you have always promoted the participation of women in the areas of politics and ideology in order to promote social change.
The UNP hitherto ably led by your husband and immediate former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, is in a crisis. It is at a grave and serious cross roads. The path it will take will determine whether it can either flourish or grow, or whether it will wither and die. And we fervently believe that you have a duty and an obligation to contribute to resolve this crisis.
Following the massive electoral defeat at the Presidential elections, the UNP which should have taken decisive and visionary steps, to conquer and consolidate its political power, is today struggling to determine its future and leadership. It is hugely evident that under the leadership of your husband the UNP is divided and has failed to plan and we may well be as a consequence, planning to fail!
Innumerable meetings but insufficient commitments have exasperated and inflamed the status quo. Many such meetings have ended in deadlock. Efforts to arrange future meetings between stake holders to determine a way forward and to sort out differences have failed. The hope and often communicated adage, “Everything will be sorted out next week,” is now fading into oblivion.
What is evident however is that unless remedial measures are taken and some reasonable plans are salvaged, the UNP will go into the General elections, with all to lose and nothing to gain. The failures and delays in adjudicating party leadership by your husband despite the will of the majority of the party members is detrimental to say the least. It undermines the UNP as a strong national (as opposed to a family) political force.
For over two decades now, your husband and family have enjoyed the perks of elected office. The people have allowed such generosities. We believe that it is time that the UNP led by your husband give those generosities back to the people by listening to the voice and the call of the people and the members of his own party. They say that the death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.
We are of the opinion that one of the duties of assuming public office is also to know when to relinquish such office. As someone who has held political office in numerous capacities, one of the great perks your husband has is that when his tenure is done, he has authority to determine the legacy and leadership of the party. We decry his efforts utilizing his long tenure to silence the members of his party and the people by saying, “I know best.” And use it like a bludgeon.
The General Elections are only a few months away. The UNP is the only formidable national party which commands the support of the mainstream minority parties, reflecting the unique diversity of Sri Lanka. Today we see alarming and concerning signs of frustration amidst the UNF coalition parties. This is of grave concern and we urge that all steps be taken by the UNP to forthwith, consolidate and strengthen the hitherto built solidarity with the minority parties. If we fail to prepare we will only prepare to fail. There is no time to waste or procrastinate in taking the urgent, relevant and winnable decisions that needs to be taken. We must make every endeavor to protect our democracy and ensure that we establish the UNP as a formidable opposition.
Mr Premadasa”s candidacy for the Presidency was approved and finalized under the leadership of your husband. As you are aware Mr. Premadasa acquired a commendable voter base during the presidential elections. 5.6 million Sri Lankans have given him a mandate.
The strongest party democracies flourish from dissent and lively debate. Unfortunately the time is up for such debate in the UNP. Party members of every background and belief have come together to unanimously elect their party leader. They have cast their votes. Any false and inflated notion that what is best for the party is what your husband decides is untenable. It means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” Your husband must set aside smaller differences in service of a greater purpose. He must resign.
With the glaring failures and broken promises of the current government in such a short time, the UNP has insurmountable amounts of work to do. In order to rise to that mandate, and fulfill the aspirations and of the people, whilst allaying their fears and concerns, the party needs to be strong, steady and solid.
The unity and the unanimity of the UNP today rests in the hands of your husband and a few others. With rumors floating of your husband’s affiliations and that which is contributing to the dysfunctionality of the party, we strongly believe immediate, remedial and transparent action is needed.
The only party that can ensure a thriving democracy, unity between the people, diversity, religious pluralism and peaceful co-existence and promote the rights and equality of women, in Sri Lanka today is unequivocally the UNP.
You are a powerful figure at this cross road. And please don’t forget that it is the women, the mothers, the daughters who suffer the most whether it is at war or in deadlock. At this moment the UNP needs women’s leadership and determination more than anywhere else. We urge you to speak up and inspire action. You might be the only person who might have the capacity and tenacity to impress upon him the gravity of the situation and the need to act. We hope you will be that woman who will go down in the annals of history as the one who ensured the Unity of the UNP.
Unanimity we might never achieve, but the unity of the party is paramount. Relinquishing his leadership is the only way forward…
Your husband has served the UNP for decades. His legacy must always be remembered and honored.
But today the party needs a different direction and vision. Despite blemishes, ups and downs, the UNP has a rich history of which it can be extremely proud of. We must come together to ensure that this legacy continues. Let’s send a powerful message to the country and to the ruling party- we are the United, UNP and we will come together for our country and her future….
Concerned Women Activists of Sri Lanka.
Soraya M. Deen & Priyadharshini Ariyaratne for
Jathika Sanvidhana Ekamuthuwa
Civil Society corner
Secure Sri Lanka
Social Democratic solidarity
Democratic People forum
Women for Democratic Governance
Muslim Women Speakers