20 October, 2017

WikiLeaks: UNP Will Have To Open Up To A New Generation Of Leaders – US

“Wickremesinghe’s image has suffered serious damage in recent months. Most particularly, he has suffered in comparison with longtime rival President Kumaratunga, who is widely seen as dynamic and passionate. That said, Wickremesinghe should be able to weather the storm for now. In the mid- to longer term, if the party is to improve its standing, however, it will have to open up to a new generation of leaders. There is a view that UNP leadership circles have become a bit stuffy and are not open to new blood. Humbled by its recent defeat, the UNP is going to have to adjust to get out of its current political trough or face further defeats down the road.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” and discuses the UNP’s internal crisis after the 2005 April parliamentary election. The cable is signed by the US Ambassador to Colombo Jeffrey J. Lunstead on May 12, 2004.

Read the cable below for further details;

Related posts to this cable;

WikiLeaks: Ranil Is A Perennial Loser As Well As A Perennial Survivor – US

WikiLeaks: US Skeptical About Ranil’s Claim That He Has Tremendous Grassroots Support

WikiLeaks: UNP Leader Under Fire From Within His Party – 2004 US Ambassador

WikiLeaks: Two Main Challenges To Ranil’s Leadership – 2004 US Ambassador

WikiLeaks: Ranil Never Really Took People Into Confidence

WikiLeaks: UNP Leadership Crisis – Despite Criticism, No Clear Alternative

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000770 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR SA, SA/INS, INR/NESA 

NSC FOR E. MILLARD 

E.O. 12958:      DECL: 05-12-14
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL CE
SUBJECT:  After recent election defeat, UNP leader
Wickremesinghe under fire from within his party 

Refs:  Colombo 760, and previous 

(U) Classified by Ambassador Jeffrey J. Lunstead.
Reasons 1.5 (b,d). 

¶1.  (C) SUMMARY:  UNP leader and former prime minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe is under fire from members of his
own party who are seeking to clip his wings and/or
remove him as party leader.  The discontent stems from
the view of many party members that Wickremesinghe led
the party poorly in the April election in which the UNP
was defeated.  Despite the heat, Wickremesinghe seems
set to hang on as party leader, as there are no clear
challengers to his rule at this time.  In the mid- to
longer term, if the party is to improve its standing, it
will have to open up to a new generation of leaders.
END SUMMARY. 

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Dissension in the UNP
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= 

¶2.  (C) The United National Party (UNP) has been roiled
by internal dissension since the party lost the April
parliamentary election.  The dissent is a bit unfocused,
but its main aim is to clip the wings of Ranil
Wickremesinghe, the UNP and Opposition Leader, and/or
remove him as party leader.  (Wickremesinghe was prime
minister from December 2001 until the UNP's defeat in
the April election.)  Two main challenges to
Wickremesinghe's leadership of the party have emerged
recently: 

-- In the first challenge, Sajith Premadasa, a UNP MP
from Hambantota District in the south, has proposed
changes to how the UNP selects its party officers.
Premadasa, who is the son of former President Premadasa
and a former deputy minister, told poloff on May 12 that
he had introduced a proposal in a May 10 UNP
parliamentary group meeting that all party officers be
elected.  (Some press reports state that Premadasa wants
a "secret" ballot, but he did not confirm this.
Currently, the party leader appoints all the party's
officers.)  Premadasa also proposed that a committee
structure be set up to make policy decisions.  Premadasa
told poloff he had made these proposals out of "a
genuine need for reform within the UNP on several
levels," and because he felt the UNP needed "more
internal democracy."  Although he stressed to poloff
that his proposal was not anti-Wickremesinghe in thrust,
Premadasa has been known to have had a tense
relationship with the former PM for some time.
Premadasa said his proposal had been well-received by
many party members, though the party leadership had not
yet formally weighed in on them as of yet.  The UNP was
scheduled to have further meetings later this week to
review Premadasa's proposals as well as other issues.
(In a May 12 meeting with the Ambassador, G.L. Peiris, a
former minister, derided Premadasa's proposals,
asserting that the party leader had to have authority to
make decisions and should not be constrained in doing so
by a committee structure.) 

-- In the second challenge, UNP party member and Sri
Lanka Telecom (SLT) chairman Thilanga Sumithapala
spearheaded an effort to replace Wickremesinghe as party
leader last week.  Sumithapala, in making this move,
claimed that Wickremesinghe had failed the party and
needed to be removed.  Nimal Weeraratne, a UNP official,
confirmed to Pol FSN on May 12 that Sumithapala had
tried to oust Wickremesinghe and asserted that
Sumithapala had also attempted to convince several UNP
members to cross over and support the United People's
Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government.  According to
Weeraratne, members loyal to Wickremesinghe had told the
former PM of these machinations and the effort was
quashed. (Contacts have told Mission that Sumithapala,
currently on bail for his alleged involvement in an
immigration scandal, may be forced to resign from his
position as SLT chairman shortly.)  In fending off
Sumithapala's effort, there are unconfirmed reports that
Wickremesinghe had to promise that he would undertake
large-scale reform and "restructuring" of the UNP.
(Indeed, at the UNP's May 10 meeting, Wickremesinghe had
reportedly placed some reform proposals on the table,
including the idea of developing "a UNP code of
conduct."  This latter idea is aimed at stopping
corruption and ethical improprieties.  Charges of
corruption dogged a number of ministers and UNP MPs
during the recent election campaign.) 

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Party Leader Under Fire
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= 

¶3.  (C) Overall, the discontent within the UNP stems
from the view of many party members (and outside
observers) that Wickremesinghe led the party poorly in
the April election campaign.  The sense that
Wickremesinghe was a failure has taken various forms,
including many press commentary pieces in English- and
Sinhala-language newspapers grumbling about his
leadership style, which is commonly seen as lackluster
to put it mildly.  In one such article, which appeared
in the English-language ISLAND on April 5, local
political analyst Rohan Edirisinha said "the prime
minister never really took people into confidence,
whether he was dealing with the peace process or the
rebels or dealing with the economy." 

¶4.  (C) Long-standing UNP members have also criticized
Wickremesinghe's election strategy, though mostly in
private.  In a May 10 meeting with the DCM, for example,
former Interior and Christian Affairs Minister John
Amaratunga said the UNP had lost the election due in
part to a lack of charisma on Wickremesinghe's part.
Amaratunga stated:  "You have to at least give the
impression that you are willing to die for what you
stand for."  During the May 10 UNP meeting, Amaratunga
related that one party member had complained to
Wickremesinghe's face that his constituents were unhappy
that the former PM never smiles and they wonder why they
should vote for the UNP.  Amaratunga said Wickremesinghe
did not respond, remaining stonefaced.  In a
conversation with Ambassador on April 8, former minister
Milinda Moragoda remarked that Wickremesinghe "did not
have the common touch."  Moragoda, who is a close
adviser to Wickremesinghe, compared him unfavorably with
former President J.R. Jayawardene, who ran a series of
strong UNP campaigns in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. (One
major exception to the mainly quiet nature of complaints
about Wickremesinghe by UNP figures was former foreign
minister Tyronne Fernando, who went public with his
opposition to Wickremesinghe in late April.  Fernando's
outburst appeared more linked with the UNP's decision
not to give him a "national list" seat in Parliament,
however, than actual animus toward Wickremesinghe.
Fernando has since resigned from the UNP.) 

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Despite criticism, no clear alternative
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= 

¶5.  (C) Despite the criticism, Wickremesinghe seems set
to hang on as party leader, as there are no clear
challengers to his rule at this time.  In the May 10
conversation with the DCM noted above, for example,
former minister John Amaratunga said that he had
recently been in several UNP meetings at which there had
been "frank discussions" as to whether Wickremesinghe
should be replaced.  Amaratunga said the conclusion from
the meetings was that Wickremesinghe should not be
forced out right away.  He also said he felt that former
Minister of Power and Energy Karu Jayasuriya -- who some
interlocutors have recommended as a possible replacement
for Wickremesinghe -- was "not a viable option."
Amaratunga noted that he was not impressed with
Jayasuriya's organizational and leadership abilities,
for example.  Party dissidents themselves, such as
Premadasa and others, have also failed to name a
definitive alternative to Wickremesinghe.  In the
meantime, in his meeting with the Ambassador, G.L.
Peiris indicated that he did not think that efforts to
remove Wickremesinghe would go anywhere.  He added that
reported tensions in the party were "much exaggerated."
(According to observers, aside from Jayasuriya, other
possible replacements for Wickremesinghe include:
Joseph Michael Perera, a senior UNP MP and former
Speaker; K. Rambukwella, a senior MP and former
minister; and Milinda Moragoda.) 

=-=-=-=
COMMENT
=-=-=-= 

¶6.  (C) Wickremesinghe's image has suffered serious
damage in recent months.  Most particularly, he has
suffered in comparison with longtime rival President
Kumaratunga, who is widely seen as dynamic and
passionate.  That said, Wickremesinghe should be able to
weather the storm for now.  In the mid- to longer term,
if the party is to improve its standing, however, it
will have to open up to a new generation of leaders.
There is a view that UNP leadership circles have become
a bit stuffy and are not open to new blood.  Humbled by
its recent defeat, the UNP is going to have to adjust to
get out of its current political trough or face further
defeats down the road.  END COMMENT. 

¶7.  (U) Minimize considered. 

LUNSTEAD
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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    New generation of Sinhala buddhist leaders to ruin the country, let them find one and let tamils go separate. Brilliant idea…

    • 0
      0

      Ranil W, the fossil, wants to stay in place, standing so that he becomes President by Default, when MR is gone.

      Of course, it will be from Sinhala Buddhist to Sinhala Buddhist.

      Only Sinhala Buddhists prostrate in front of the 3rd Gem of the Triple Gem, Sangha.

      (Forget the occasional rapes and criminal activities)

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNSC93mPs4I

  • 0
    0

    RANIL BRING BACK RUKMAN A MAN OF CLASS. WE NEED POLITICIANS OF HIS CALIBER.

  • 0
    0

    Ranil Wickreamasinghe has let Mahinda Rajapakse consolidate his dictatorship and corrupt governance because he (Ranil) would then seem slightly better in comparison!

    Wickreamasinghe is a Pathetic excuse for an opposition and must GO and should not be permitted to have ANY post in the UNP which he has RUINED.

    I firmly believe that at this time TNA is shaping up to be the most honourable opposition, and it may be that Justice Wigneswaran will soon the best man to be President of Sri Lanka, given the corruption of the Sinhala political establishment and its leaders who are rotten to the core.

  • 0
    0

    Yep! We need more thugs and criminals in the UNP if it is to win.

    • 0
      0

      This may well be.
      To get on neck and neck; UNP and other oppotion parties should have more criminals in their bunches. No secret – over 90% of ruling UPFA are criminals OR crime supporters. Who cares today, rulers do all kind illegal business from drugs to alcohol, GOLD to other fradulent businesses.

  • 0
    0

    Chandrika ‘dynamic’? my foot. US Embassy has got its wires crossed this time. She never did anything for this country was half the time drunk and the other half late for any function. She could not say what she achieved under her leadership when she was interviewed soon after she got her arse kicked out of President’s house. However, she did fiddle the ‘President’s Fund’ and made no submissions to the Auditor General on these transactions done illegally by her. Also, illegal property transactions and others seem to have kept her busy during her Presidency.

    • 0
      0

      James, Why what about the money passed for purchase of new vehicles where she substituted old vehicles, as bought from the funds allocated? Remember the camera in the hand bag where she was projecting at the Cabinet and when she was questioned she immediately got up and left saying that she was abused in ‘thitha kunuharapa’, while she was indulging in kunuharapa with the Naluwa type all the time otherwise. For the American Embassy to state that Chandrika was more dynamic than RW, possibly Robert Blake would have discovered Chandrika’s ability privately. The question is Dynamic in what? On the bed?

  • 0
    0

    /* UNP Will Have To Open Up To A New Generation Of Leaders */

    I don’t agree.
    What UNP need is a leader in stone age to beat the UPFA.

    1. The UNP leader should have a strategry to incite racial disharmony and secure 51% of 70% of buddhist votes.
    2. He needs to grow radical buddhist organisations to beat the likes BBS, Ravan Balawega in their own game.
    3. He need to have politicians like Udgoshanawanses, Vermins, Drug dealers, rapists, robbers to lead each and every district.
    4. He need to start to a maintain dirty scorecard for each of his UNP politicians and try to blackmail them when they try to defecate to UPFA. FUrther do same for UPFA politicians for them defecate to UNP.
    5. He need to find some funds (even from ex-LTTE gold, foreign bank accounts) to buy all news media in Sri Lanka so that they talk about honky dory achievements of UNP and UNP leader 24×7 in news.

    These are the minimum requirement for stone age UNP leader to give any sort of competition for UPFA for next election.

    FRankly I don’t think a new generation of leaders could do anything to break UPFA strangle hold in country governance.

  • 0
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    May i suggest that Mr. Eran Wickramaratne be recognised as part of the new blood of emerging leaders in the UNP. He is one special guy. See all the reviews of him in the various newspapers and what people have to say. Gave up his lucrative job as the CEO of one of the leading banks in Sri Lanka to serve the masses. Dedicated, principled, genius of a man. No doubt my first pick for party leadership and future leader of the Country.

  • 0
    0

    “That said, Wickremesinghe should be able to weather the storm for now. In the mid- to longer term, if the party is to improve its standing, however, it will have to open up to a new generation of leaders.”

    When the party leader does not allow the energetic younger generation of party activists to play a “lead role” other than fielding 30% of candidates who are below 35-years, party will die with mediocre loyalists who are abnormal homo-sapiens.

    US Embassy noted that in 2004 and how true are their predictions. By the time the Leadership Council takes over it will find no successors.

  • 0
    0

    where are these new generation of leaders?
    they are scared to open their mouth….as they know they will get white van treatement if they do

  • 0
    0

    Why keep digging up old dispatches this one from 2004. Of course RW has survived to this day proving the cables prediction so what is the point.
    The real problem the UNP suffers is that it is the main opposition party and there fore a threat to the megalomaniac. It is lucky to manage what it does without being completely wiped out. That is what megalomaniacs do to the their rivals. It lost a whole pile of potential leaders to the other megalomaniac who just blew up en mass all his opponents a large chunk of them UNPers. The current maniac chooses a more cunning tactic of slowly bleeding the UNP. That is the reality right now. Of course in the past he too chose to blow up his rivals as long as he could blame it on the LTTE while using Karuna to carry out the acts. This is called master manipulation. All the idiots who keep railing at RW should pause a moment if they are genuine and think. Both Sajith Premadasa and Karu Jayasuriya are also victims of manipulation by the maniac. Whoever comes forward as a leader of the UNP will be mercilessly targeted.

  • 0
    0

    CBK trying to get UNP membership.

  • 0
    0

    You must first have an image to incur damage!

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