“I Assumed Country’s Leadership with the Legacy of UNP”

  • “SJB Now Marred by Hatred Stemming from Party Division”.
  • “UNP’s Vision, Then and Now, Focused Solely on Nation Building”- President Affirms Addressing UNP Activists in Kandy.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe reflected on his leadership journey, emphasizing his enduring affiliation with the United National Party (UNP). He recalled his collaborative efforts alongside President J.R. Jayewardene, his role in safeguarding the party during President Ranasinghe Premadasa’s tenure and his collaboration with President D.B. Wijethunga. Subsequently, he assumed the role of Prime Minister from the UNP and later ascended to the position of the President of the country.

Expressing regret, President Wickremesinghe remarked that the Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, led to the division of the UNP and the formation of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB). He expressed sorrow over this development, recalling his major role in protecting the party during previous rifts, including during the tenure of his father Late President R. Premadasa.

President Wickremesinghe made these remarks during a gathering of UNP activists convened at the President’s House in Kandy (07).

The President emphasized that if the UNP had remained unified, it would have emerged stronger today. He noted the absence of UNP policies within the SJB resulting from the party’s division, highlighting the appointment of a UNP leader in that faction as a mere symbolic gesture.

He lamented the challenging journey ahead and criticized the SJB for lacking policies beyond fostering animosity. The President denounced engaging in politics driven by hatred and stressed the imperative of prioritizing the development of the country’s economy.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe addressed the gathering, acknowledging the current political landscape shaped by the crisis of 2022, which precipitated both economic and political upheaval. He underscored the paramount importance of rescuing the country’s economy and rejuvenating its people, transcending partisan affiliations.

The President recalled the UNP early recognition of the economic crisis, noting that they had advocated for the necessity of USD 3 billion to address it during the 2020 election—an assertion not echoed by others. Reflecting on the splintering of the UNP, which led to the formation of the SJB under Sajith Premadasa’s leadership, President Wickremesinghe expressed regret, particularly given his past efforts to safeguard the party during similar tumultuous times under Sajith Premadasa’s father. He lamented that had the UNP remained intact, it would have wielded considerable political strength and potentially formed a government.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe reflected on past opportunities for collaboration, particularly during Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s departure from office. He noted that support was sought at that critical juncture, but cooperation did not materialize, despite the potential for unified governance. The President highlighted how the fragmentation of the UNP further complicated matters, leading to a divided opposition.

Additionally, when he assumed the role of Prime Minister, efforts to garner support were met with resistance. President Wickremesinghe also alluded to a significant national crisis during this period, during which there were discussions regarding his ascension to the presidency, only to face shifting dynamics and aspirations within the opposition.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe recounted the events surrounding the country’s crisis, stating that during that time, the majority of the SLPP expressed willingness to support him as Prime Minister to address the challenges. However, a minority within the SLPP opposed this stance. He mentioned that SLPP Chairman G.L. Peiris advocated for SLPP members to support a candidate from within their party for the presidency. Subsequently, a minority group, including Peiris, shifted to the opposition.

Furthermore, President Wickremesinghe noted that during the presidential election, they proposed Dallas Alahapperuma as their candidate. Meanwhile, Sajith Premadasa was ready to become the SLPP candidate for Premiership. However, when he was offered the opportunity initially, he declined. But later expressing willingness to accept the role.

President Wickremesinghe emphasized his decision to assume the presidency, driven by a sense of national duty rather than political considerations. He sought the support of all parties to address the crisis, which saw collaboration between traditional rivals such as the SLPP and the UNP for the greater good of the country. This collective effort, he noted, contributed to stabilizing the country’s economy.

In discussing the SJB, the President highlighted their earlier aspirations to take over the UNP’s headquarters, Sirikotha, as a means to gain power. However, he observed that the group of SLPP, including figures like G.L. Peiris, now holds sway over the SJB, signifying a shift in political alliances and strategies.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe shared his thoughts on the current state of the SJB and its connection to the UNP. He pointed out the absence of UNP members within the SJB and highlighted the difficulty of integrating UNP members into the SJB, comparing it to the challenge faced by Kisagothami in finding mustard during Lord Buddha’s time.

Additionally, President Wickremesinghe stressed that the SJB cannot be regarded as the UNP due to its lack of adherence to UNP policies and its alignment with figures such as G.L. Peiris from the SLPP. He urged the SJB to realign itself with the UNP and stressed the significance of regrouping around the UNP once more.

Reflecting on his own political journey, President Wickremesinghe acknowledged his deep-rooted association with the UNP, spanning from his collaboration with former President J.R. Jayewardene to his leadership roles within the party. He expressed appreciation for those who stood by the UNP and emphasized the necessity of unity within the party, particularly at the grassroots level.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted the unity that emerged across party lines to address the challenges facing the country. He addressed accusations regarding Mahinda Rajapaksa’s involvement, stating that the majority of the SLPP supported him and any alignment was based on national interest rather than personal agendas. President Wickremesinghe emphasized that while some may harbour animosity, his focus remains on developing the country, devoid of hatred.

Regarding the current economic situation, President Wickremesinghe noted significant progress, emphasizing that all citizens now have the right to live with dignity. He called for continued collaboration to further economic advancement.

The President underscored that the policies of the UNP are evident in the relief and heritage programs initiated by the government. He suggested that the SJB’s lack of support stems from the absence of UNP policies within their ranks, rather than ideological differences.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of conveying the message to rural party members that the policies of the UNP are rooted in the legacies of past leaders including former Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake, former President J.R. Jayewardene and those who defended President Premadasa’s government in 1989.

Minister Manusha Nanayakkara, Senior Adviser to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, General Secretary of the UNP Palitha Range Bandara, former Member of Parliament K. Piyadasa, along with nearly a thousand UNP members were present at the occasion.