Sources close to Sri Lanka’s United National Party (UNP) have strongly hinted that Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa is set to take over the party leadership within the next few weeks as the party is set for drastic reorganization.
Mr Wickramsinghe will continue in his role as Prime Minister as he oversees the changes in his party which includes changes to government portfolios, in the run up for the General Elections set for 2020.
This is in the wake of the recent No Confidence Motion against the incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickramsinghe which was initiated by the Joint Opposition group in the parliament led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The Prime Minister defeated the no-confidence motion in the parliament with a 46 vote majority after a 12-hour debate on Wednesday where a vote saw 122 legislators back Wickremesinghe, while 76 MPs voted to remove him. Twenty-six members of parliament were absent during the vote.
Mr. Wickremesinghe had told Mr. Premadasalast week ‘to be prepared to play a greater role in the party in the future’, during a UNP working committee meeting held last week.
Minister Premadasa had said ‘he was willing to take over the party leadership said he is prepared to accept any responsibility given to him unanimously by the party’.
Political analysts have commented that although the Prime Minister might have survived the vote he is left with a government weakened by entire process.
Since the national unity government of President Sirisena’s SLFP and Prime Minister’s UNP came together in 2015 fractionalism had crept in and was building up over the last three years, analysts commented. This was the root of this no-confidence motion were divisions capitalised on by the joint opposition.
The recent local government elections had left the Prime Minister weakened and opened up rifts at the highest levels of the coalition between the UNP and the SLFP.
Both parties fought the local elections separately, in which they were trounced by the Rajapaksa-backed opposition parties.
Contributed by MDW Live!