The UNP Rebel in Chief Sajith Premadasa failed to make an appearance at a major anti-Government rally attended by the combined opposition and several trade unions and civil society organisations on Tuesday, making himself increasingly irrelevant in his effort to snub measures to change the leadership structure in the party.
Tuesday’s rally was the first in several years to have garnered such enthusiasm and was joined by several different groups protesting about different types of oppression in the country. The rallies were organised to raise a voice against the executive presidential system, the suppression of the free press and the degradation of society as a result of Government corruption and its patronage of drug lords. Different opposition parties and groups marched in Colombo and converged at Hyde Park for the rally. The main opposition UNP was instrumental in organising the demonstration, that took a cross party approach.
Premadasa who recently declined an appointment to the UNP Nomination Board for the Western and Southern Provincial Council polls, months after he refused to sit as a member of the party’s new leadership council, has successfully sidelined himself just as the UNP begins to show signs of life.
Tuesday’s rally was heavily monitored by the state intelligence and police services because it alluded to the impending forging of an alliance among different opposition groups to battle the Rajapaksa administration.
Premadasa’s rebel UNP faction has long since been accused by critics as playing into the hands of the Government and working according to the regime’s agenda.