A nine member UNP Leadership Council was whittled down to seven a few hours ago after UNP MP Thalatha Athukorale, refused a seat on the Council this afternoon.
Athukorale is a strong supporter of Sajith Premadasa who refused to sit on the Council after it was constituted yesterday, claiming it would be a betrayal of the monks that tried to broker the compromise.
Athukorale’s inclusion in the Leadership Council was strongly advocated by Karu Jayasuriya who was appointed Chairman of the new body, both because she was a Premadasa adherent and also would bring much needed female representation into the decision making process going forward.
Premadasa’s powerful media backers are insisting that Premadasa and his associates do not participate in the Leadership Council because that would prevent them from continuing the agitation against Ranil Wickremesinghe. With Jayasuriya at the helm of the new Council Premadasa’s backers believe that the path to the leadership is blocked for the MP from Hambantota.
The thinking of the Premadasa camp is that if the reformists who have been granted places in the Council opt out of the process, it can be condemned unreservedly as a Council made up of Ranil loyalists.
Jayasuriya who was hitherto believed to be a member of the reformist camp has been denounced in the Mawbima, Ceylon Today and Sirasa networks for betraying the reformist cause. Going forward, the Premadasa faction and its backers will treat Jayasuriya in much the same way they treated Wickremesinghe, sources said.