UNP Working Committee
pooh-poohs Common Opposition Alliance

  • Contest Presidential Poll proposal rejected
  • Common Opposition Alliance vetoed
  • ‘ No’ to scrapping Executive Presidency
  • Campaign to damage President & Gen. Fonseka’s relationship?

The document containing a proposal by SLFP (M) leader Mangala Samaraweera, that an opposition alliance led by the UNP be formed to contest the Presidential Poll expected to be held early next year, which was introduced by no less a person than party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe himself, was rejected by the UNP Working Committee that met last Wednesday.

This proposal on a Common Opposition Alliance initiated by Mangala, had been presented to the Working Committee by the UNP leader at the previous meeting. The proposal was later referred to the party’s Political Committee led by Karu Jayasuriya for study.

Political Committee unveils new political road map
The UNP Political Committee tasked with studying the Common Alliance Proposal while submitting its report, also presented another document containing a political roadmap under two main headings: Vision on State and Vision on International Relations, which too came under intense discussion at its meeting held on July 15.
A wide national consensus, not a common alliance

Tissa Attanayake, John Amaratunga, N.V.K.K. Weragoda, Malik Samarawickrama, Lakshman Kirielle, S.B.Dissanayake, Ranjith Maddumabandara, Johnston Fernando, Sajith Premadasa, D.M. Swaminathan, Kabir Hashim, Ravi Karunanayake, Rukman Senanayake and Ms. Renuka Herath participated in this Political Committee meeting which was presided over by Karu Jayasuriya.

The proposed Common Opposition Alliance figured prominently at the discussions. The view of the majority of participants was that there was nothing wrong with entering into some understanding with political parties which subscribe to the party’s policies and programmes. But there was no need for the UNP to form a common alliance as proposed. The Committee also decided as an uncompromising stand that in the event of the party agreeing to field a common opposition candidate, he should contest under the `Elephant’ symbol.

Proposal to abolish Presidency comes under fire
Another decision made by the Committee was that under no circumstances, a political combine with UNP as a constituent, should be registered as a new political party.

Ravi Karunanayake had proposed at this meeting that the Executive Presidency should be scrapped, come a UNP government. Rukman who vehemently opposed this proposal lashed out at Ravi: “People in villages do not call for the abolition of the Executive Presidency. The President could win the war because he could prosecute it as the Executive President. It would be rank hypocrisy to call for the scrapping of Executive Presidency at this stage.” Ranjth Maddumabandara had joined the fray saying that the party should not commit another political faux pas by opposing the Executive Presidency. “This proposal has been made because Ranil Wickremesinghe cannot win the Presidential election,” Johnston had quipped.

The Political Committee had decided to further discuss the recommendations in the Gamini Jayawickrama Perera Committee report at a subsequent meeting. This Committee has proposed, among other things, that certain powers of the Executive Presidency be repealed, and the Executive President be made accountable to Parliament for his actions.

Malik Samarawickrama had misunderstood the majority view that there was nothing wrong with the UNP reaching political consensus or common political ground with any political party in so far as the latter could see eye to eye with the party’ policy matters.. “Doesn’t this also mean that we are prepared to form an alliance with such parties?” Samarawickrama had queried. Pat had come the reply from Lakshman Seneviratne: “:Can’t you understand the difference with `sandhanaya’ and `sammutiya’, Malik ? What we have endorsed is a `sammutiya,’ an informal affair. We can reach consensus or common political ground with any party that subscribes to our policies”, Lakshman had explained.

UNP severs ties with Freedom Forum

The Committee had also discussed the `Nidahase Vedikawa’ (Freedom Forum) spearheaded by Ranil, Mangala , Mano Ganesan and SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem.

“We should not do anything that runs counter to Freedom Forum agenda,” Tissa Attanayake had said.
“What are they talking about? Do they talk in one voice? They only contradict one another. If we run with them, we may lose even the few votes we can muster today,” quipped S.B.Dissanayake.

Sajith Premadasa had pointed out all activities of the party should be carried out under the direction of the Political Committee.
It transpired during the Committee discussions that a legal consultant had altered the recommendations in the Gamini Jayawickrama Perera report under the direction of party leader Wickremesinghe. When this came to light, the Political Committee had asked Kabir Hashim and SB to re- do the recommendations tampered with. It was this re-hashed version of the report that the Committee later had studied.

The UNP Working Committee too had rejected the Common Opposition Political Alliance proposal and had instead adopted the new proposal on working out a wide national consensus with the other opposition political parties.

The Working Committee had rejected Mangala’s proposal that the `Elephant’ symbol be replaced with the common symbol `pot’. Several UNP MPs had suggested that Mangala contest under the `Elephant’ symbol and if he felt he could not win he be included in the UNP National List.

Another motion adopted by the Working Committee says that (a) the party’s Presidential candidate should be necessarily a member of the UNP, (b) he should contest under the `Elephant’ symbol and (c) that the name of the candidate should be decided on soon.

The Working Committee also adopted for implementation the Gamini Jayawickrama Perera report containing recommendations relating to * the abolition of Executive Presidency, * reforms to system of elections * ensuring economic stability and good governance * and development of foreign relations.
The Committee also decided to revoke the party’s Agreement with Mangala’s National Council.

A sinister campaign afoot?

Meanwhile, a sinister campaign has been allegedly mounted by Mangala and some political associates of his, to damage the understanding existing between the President and Chief of Defense Staff General Sarath Fonseka, according to some political sources.

The misinformation that has been set afloat hinting that General Fonseka will come forward as the common opposition Presidential candidate, is said to be part of that campaign. Several web sites carried this story.
One website said that a, `Sarath’ would be the common opposition candidate at the upcoming Presidential election. They had really meant General Sarath Fonseka Some had tried to make it out that `Sarath’ is former Chief Justice Sarath N Silva.

Mangala’s dream of fielding a common opposition candidate ended when the UNP Working Committee had decided that only a party man should be fielded as the party’s candidate.


UNP’s Road Map for national political consensus

The road map for building a wide national political consensus approved by the UNP Political Committee and the Working Committee is as follows:

  • Let us give a new meaning to our Punyabhumi(Blessed Land) - let us re-build a Republic to replace the monarchy
  • People-centred State
  • My State
  • Our economy to be re-built by Bhumiputras ( Sons of the soil)
  • Our socio-cultural development and
    Our policies for building Our World

1. Our vision on State – `My State’
The state of Sri Lanka has to be turned into a strong, stable, and prosperous national state.
To achieve this end let us firmly dedicate ourselves to safeguard our country’s unitary status, independence, sovereignty, freedom, territorial integrity and democracy..

The fact that North-East war is over is a matter for great satisfaction. We must now hasten to provide solutions to social, political, cultural, and economic problems that led to the birth of several armed groups to fight for a separate state called `Eelam’. In this regard, we believe that a wide devolution of power within the parameters of a unitary form of state is an imperative.

Our vision is to build a national state within the parameters of the aforesaid approach which:

• enables every Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Malay and Burgher to maintain his/ her separate ethnic identity while proudly calling himself/herself a Sri Lankan
• treats all citizens as equals irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, language, place of birth or caste or other differences,
• protects the identity of all ethnic , religious and cultural groupings including that of Sinhalese and Buddhists with the active co-operation and assistance of leaders of all religions to usher in a righteous society
• safeguards the rule of the law upholding the provisions which constitute the fundamental law enshrined in the Constitution
• And give an attentive ear to the voice of the people

Such a national state should be an effective state free from waste and corruption. For realising these objectives, the state administration, public service, and Police service should acquire independence and efficiency through the strengthening of the Legislature and the Independent Commissions.

The full independence of the judiciary has to be ensured.
We hope to introduce a new system of elections based on a blend of the first-past-the post and proportional representation systems. This new system will be structured in such a manner that it will not place any minority community or a minor political party at any disadvantage. The proposed system will provide for allocation of seats in Parliament through the District list as well as the National List, going by the ratio of votes polled by respective recognised political parties and independent groups.

We hope to reach consensus decisions on controversial issues such as the abolition of the Executive Presidency, curtailment of powers vested with the President, making the President an office-holder answerable to Parliament and the people, and creation of an Executive Prime Minister to replace the Executive President after consultation with political parties and political groupings who will join forces with the UNP.

Our Vision on Politics - `My Government’
The existence of a stable political system is a prerequisite for bringing into being a strong national state. Following conditions should underpin such a political system.

(a) There should be an effective democracy reflecting the aspirations of people where the dignity of the people as well as their representation is well protected

(b) There should be a free media guided and restrained by self-censorship which would safeguard the right of the people to information

(c) People’s representatives should be the genuine custodians of Public Finance and not squanderers of public funds

(d) The State should implement political policies aimed at the common good and common welfare and fulfilling the aspirations of the people

(e) People’s representatives holding high office and enjoying perks thanks to powers and funds bestowed on them by the people should never abuse their authority they have derived from the people to distance themselves from people to attain status of royalty

(f) The Constitution, the supreme law of the country made on behalf of the people should be held in respect and safeguarded and meticulously observed

A vibrant economy is among the main factors that contribute towards the continuity of a strong national state. To achieve this objective:
(a) We need an economy reinforced by proper human resource deployment and management which will not only look after the immediate needs of the kitchen, but also empower all sections of the population economically

(b) While upholding the concept of a well planned open market economy with ,of course, necessary restrictions, we have to promote and encourage the competition between the state sector and the private sector

(c) The state has to be conscious of its responsibility to intervene where necessary to ensure the democratic rights, job security as well as the welfare of employees in both state and private sectors

(d) Such interventions should be motivated by concerns over social equitability, social security , productivity , flexibility and innovation

(e) We have to introduce a community-centred economy capable of securing the participation of people ,meeting the needs of the key players in development such as employers and employees and market forces ensuring the co-ordination and sustainability of the economy

Our vision on Socio-cultural development
Society and individual should be the target of development. It is an imperative today to rebuild an indigenous culture enriched by Buddhism and other religions as a prerequisite to create an environment conducive for bringing into being a strong an individual and society ideally suited for the 21st century. The measures to be taken towards achieving this objective are:

• Targetting social development at building a society based on social values

• Launching a development programme for our younger generation treating them as a valuable investment for the future for the main purpose of instilling a sense of patriotism – `this is my country my own ‘ concept in them - while being conscious of the fact that they are a competitor in the global race.

• Institutionlising the state intervention in a bid to free the poor from the poverty trap
• Paying special attention to vulnerable groups in the society.

• Optimising the use of the environment without causing any harm to it as part of a people-centred development process, thereby achieve a socio-cultural development as an inviolable responsibility of the government.

Our vision on International Relations
The country’s foreign policy should be based on the relative benefits the national state can derive from it. Our foreign policy also should reflect the country’s identity in the global village.

We have to uphold the non-aligned policy so far we have followed. We have to further strengthen our diplomatic relations with India and other Asian countries, world powers and the country’s leading donor nations while giving priority to Indo-Lanka relations. We hope to carry out our foreign policy upholding highest diplomatic norms and a firm commitment to promote our friendship and understanding with all countries.

In order to maintain and safeguard Sri Lanka’s honour at every international forum with the country’s economy, development and security at forefront:

• We hope to introduce a set of new policies on our foreign relations. These new policies while signifying our commitment to upholding international norms and discharging our international obligations, will further strengthen our non-aligned stand.

• We propose the following political measures with a view to turning our policies into practical terms.

• We have to build up a national consensus against the present dictatorial, corrupt and wasteful government. The UNP members will form the majority of the membership of organisations to be set up for achieving this objective. The main office holders too will be UNPers.


The party symbol `Elephant’ carries much significance for the party. It is very important that we reach a wide national consensus with political parties and groupings with which we are closely working now.

We invite all patriots and progressives to be part of the National Consensus we are working out.
The presidential candidate of the national consensus now in the making shall be a member of the UNP.

The UNP has to decide on its Presidential candidate without further delay.

All National Consensus candidates at all upcoming elections including the Presidential poll are required to contest under the elephant symbol. The UNP Political Committee should take all decisions relating to the national consensus and the Working Committee has to approve them.

All agreements the party had signed with the National Council are hereby declared null and void.