|UNP reforms deadlock?
Split inevitable says reformists
UNP Chairman Malik Samarawickrema said yesterday that the
joint proposals of individuals and organisations who envisaged
reforms to the party will come before the UNP convention on
Asked whether UNP National Organiser, S.B. Dissanayake’s
proposals would come before the convention, he replied that
“there is only one joint proposal that would include proposals
by Dissanayake, John Amaratunga and others.”
Party General Secretary designate, Tissa Attanayake also
confirmed that a set of joint proposals will come before the
party convention. He said that the John Amaratunga report on the
restructuring of the working committee was 90 percent similar to
Dissanayake’s proposals on the constitution of the working
According to Attanayake, the working committee will be expanded
upto about 90 members and not 117 as proposed by Dissanayake.
He said that Dissanayake had proposed both president and
secretary of the district organisation to be members of the
working committee, making it a large outfit. Attanayake said
that in his opinion, only one member from each district
organisation should represent a district in the working
He said the proposals put forward have nothing to do with the
legal format prepared by Romesh De Silva.
Contrary to this, seniors close to Party Leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe said there was a deadlock at the moment, since
Dissanayake was insisting that the six resolutions he proposed
be passed as constitutional amendments at the next convention.
However representatives of the party leader are of the view that
these proposals are ultra vires the constitution and hence
should be reconsidered by the working committee and later at a
special convention. He said there is no decision right now as to
what they should do.
But sources from the opposing camp said this is a move by the
Ranil Wickremesinghe camp to fizzle out reforms as done earlier
and if this happens a split in the party is inevitable.
They said that if the reforms are not introduced as envisaged,
Wickremesinghe will appoint all his nominees to the working
committee under the present constitution, which is more of a
dictatorial nature, and try to have his way.
Meanwhile proposals of the reformist group headed by Karu
Jayasuriya in its legal form and relevant amendments to the UNP
constitution drafted by Romesh De Silva had been handed over to
Party General Secretary designate Tissa Attanayake.
Professor G.L. Peiris said yesterday that four copies had been
sent with translations to Tissa Attanayake. He said that they
have undertaken to present the resolutions at the party
Presently it is learnt that these amendments are being studied
by President’s Counsel K.N. Choksy, D.M. Swaminathan along with
party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Swaminathan had apparently given an undertaking to Karu
Jayasuriya and said that they would see to it that these
proposals would be implemented.
Meanwhile a spokesman for the reformists said that they are
armed with all necessary legal advice to challenge in court if
any decision is taken contrary to what was agreed at the Working
He said that at the Working Committee meeting party leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe had agreed that all reforms proposed by the group
headed by Karu Jayasuriya would be implemented except for the
nomination for the post of the general secretary. The reformists
conceded to the nomination of Tissa Attanayake.
He also said that both Tissa Attanayake and Rukman Senanayake
would not be able to hold these positions without amending the
present constitution. The present constitution stipulates that
the bearers of the posts of the Chairman and the General
Secretary should not be parliamentarians.
He further said that refusal of these proposals at any stage can
lead to a split in the party and the reformists are likely to
sit as a separate entity in Parliament.
There are over 28 members who support this move, he said. If
this happens the UNP is running the risk of losing the position
of Opposition Leader in Parliament.