Weligama Mayor Rehaan Wijeratne Jayawickreme has vowed to go to the Supreme Court to fight UNP efforts to expel him from the Urban Council after his petition against the party was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on Friday (21).
Releasing a statement, the Weligama Urban Council Chairman said he would “immediately appeal” the decision in the Supreme Court.
It was “disheartening” that with all the challenges to democracy mounted by the government amidst a public health crisis, the UNP remained focused on petty vendettas and subverting the democratic will of the people of Weligama, Wijeratne said in the statement.
“They may succeed in stripping me of my position and handing control of the UC to the government, however no one will succeed at stopping me from standing for the truth and doing what is right for my constituents, regardless of the political price I may have to pay,” he vowed.
Wijeratne said he would resign if he exhausted legal remedies to prevent the UNP from removing him.
His statement also revealed that a senior office bearer of the UNP had recently called him to inform him that the party would cease attempts to remove him if he issued a public apology to Ranil Wickremesinghe for his 2019 comments questioning his leadership of the UNP.
“I informed this senior UNP office bearer that notwithstanding any legal threats or intimidation, under no circumstances will I apologize to Mr. Wickremesinghe for accurately and faithfully representing to him the concerns and heartfelt views of the UNP voters who elected me to the Weligama UC in 2018,” the Weligama Mayor said in his statement.
Wijeratne said that shortly after he had urged Wickremesinghe to hand over the party reins to Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, the UNP had decided to nominate Premadasa as presidential candidate.
However, “the UNP’s subsequent insistence on retaining Mr. Wickremasinghe as its leader has caused the party to lose over 100 seats in Parliament and many of its most senior and capable leaders,” the Weligama Mayor noted.
In May 2019, Rehaan Wijeratne Jayawickreme wrote to then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe urging him to step down and hand the party over to Premadasa as internal conflict gripped the UNP over its presidential nominee.
“I write this not because I am against you but because I now think your time has passed,” Wijeratne’s letter to Ranil Wickremesinghe dated 14 May 2019 said.
The party responded by suspending Wijeratne’s party membership and moving to oust him as Weligama Mayor. The dismissal would pave the way for the SLPP to wrest control of the COuncil, Wijeratne noted. The UC Chairman has filed legal action against the UNP over the matter. Rehaan Wijeratne Jayawickreme is currently a member of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya. (Nimal Ratnaweera)