Reaffirming the close-to-absolute power vested in the position of party leader in the United National Party (UNP) Constitution, Ranil Wickremesinghe brushed aside all objections and persuaded the Working Committee to ratify his all-male choices for key party posts. Moreover, except for one appointee, the rest are all past pupils of Wickremesinghe’s alma mater, Royal College, Colombo.
The UNP’s Working Committee, which met today effectively ratified the persons that Wickremesinghe had picked for these posts. A total of 57 members had been present at the meeting.
Accordingly, while Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa retained the posts of Leader and Deputy Leader respectively, Ravi Karunanayake was appointed as Assistant Leader, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam as General Secretary and Navin Dissanayake as National Organizer.
Former General Secretary Kabir Hashim was made the Chairman of the party and Harsha de Silva appointed as the Treasurer. In addition, Ruwan Wijewardene was appointed the Deputy General Secretary. De Silva has always been a loyal supporter of his leader while Wijewardena is Wickremesinghe’s cousin. Of all these individuals only Kariyawasam is not an old boy of Royal College.
According to party sources, the consultative committee appointed to discuss and recommend reforms for the restructuring of the party has effectively been sidelined in the process.
Ranjan Ramanayake and Joseph Michael Perera had raised objections to the appointment of Karunanayake as Assistant Leader, the latter deciding to resign from the Working Committee in protest.
Ramanayake had suggested that Karunanayake’s appointment be put on hold until such time he is cleared of having had a part in the Central Bank bond scam.
Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanayake had opined that it would have been better if these office-bearers were elected. However it had been pointed out that a third of the members present would have to call for such as election as per the Party Constitution.
When Kariyawasam’s name was announced and the members asked if there were objections, ‘there was visible displeasure,’ sources told Colombo Telegraph.
‘You could see it in their faces. Ajith P Perera said that perhaps the leader should ask “does anyone approve (Akila being appointed as General Secretary)?”‘
Wickremesinghe had said that the General Secretary should be a nominee of the party leader, sources added.