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President Ranil Wickremesinghe, asserting that the foundational principles of the United National Party are absent in the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), appealed to former United National Party members who joined the SJB to unite in safeguarding the nation from indebtedness and contribute to constructing a secure future for generations to come.
Speaking at the inaugural public rally of the United National Party at the Kuliyapitiya Municipal Council Stadium yesterday (10), President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of collective action for national progress.
Themed “Reality,” the series of public gatherings drew a substantial crowd for its debut event in Kuliapitiya.
Marking his first public address since assuming office, President Ranil Wickremesinghe received a warm reception from the assembled audience. Following his speech, he mingled with attendees, engaging in amicable conversations.
Expressing gratitude to supporters across party lines since assuming the presidency, President Ranil Wickremesinghe stressed the necessity of collaborative efforts for national development, transcending narrow political interests.
Highlighting the government’s efforts to provide relief amidst challenging circumstances, the President underscored the United National Party’s commitment to truth and progress, asserting its unparalleled vision for nation-building.
Recalling the United National Party’s policy statement during the 2020 elections, which addressed the country’s economic challenges, President Ranil Wickremesinghe reaffirmed the party’s dedication to addressing critical issues and presented a video outlining key points.
Addressing the gathering President Ranil Wickremesinghe said;
“Today, a substantial gathering fills this stadium, and I extend my heartfelt gratitude to each of you. Your unwavering support during challenging times has been invaluable.
As we navigate through this tumultuous period, it is imperative that we forge a national consensus to propel us forward.
Your presence here is not merely to meet my expectations but to voice your aspirations. Many of you ponder the future amidst adversity. I stand before you to advocate for unity, transcending narrow political divides.
Assuming leadership, I did not anticipate steering the country to its current state. Yet, we are poised to emerge from the brink of bankruptcy sooner than anticipated. Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and other official creditors are underway, with the aim of finalizing agreements by May or June. This milestone will usher in a new era of opportunities as we transition to a solvent nation.
Throughout this journey, we have prioritized alleviating the burdens of our people. Government employees will receive a substantial salary increase, with additional benefits slated for the upcoming Sinhala and Tamil New Year. Furthermore, initiatives such as the Senasuma program aim to provide economic security to millions.
In our commitment to social justice, we are distributing 20 kilograms of rice to families in need during the upcoming festive season. Land rights are being granted to those holding permits, while permanent rights are secured for residents of 50,000 flats in Colombo. Despite challenges, we remain steadfast in our resolve to provide relief.
The modernization of agriculture is paramount to our economic agenda, with plans to transform the sector over the next decade. Additionally, measures to combat corruption have been instituted, underscoring our dedication to accountability.
Legislative reforms, including the Women’s Empowerment Bill and the Gender Equality Bill, are underway to promote gender equity. Amendments to laws addressing fiscal responsibility and violence against women reflect our commitment to progress.
Furthermore, the establishment of dedicated units for women and children in every police station underscores our commitment to safeguarding vulnerable populations. These efforts are integral to the advancement of our nation’s citizens.
I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all members of the United National Party who stood by me following my assumption of the presidency. Additionally, I express my appreciation to supporters from the Podu Jana Peramuna (SLPP), Sri Lanka Freedom Party, and Janatha Vimukti Peramuna, who transcended narrow party lines in their endorsement. Our politics must not be confined by narrow interests; rather, we must unite in our efforts to advance our nation.
Despite divisions during the 2020 parliamentary elections, I remained steadfast in our commitment to truth and progress as the United National Party. Despite opposition and scepticism, I maintained that with a strategic approach, swiftly forming a government. Today, I reiterate that there is only one party—the United National Party—united in its pursuit of economic advancement, as envisioned by D.S. Senanayake and J.R. Jayawardena.
I recall the manifesto’s declaration, highlighting the stark economic challenges we face, including significant loss of foreign income and mounting debt obligations. In confronting these realities, we must seek international support to rejuvenate our economy, a path I am committed to despite its challenges.
While others may promise the world, we remain steadfast in our commitment to truth and pragmatic progress. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna’s proposal for an independent institution to guide economic revival reflects a shared goal of sustainable growth. We acknowledge their vision, recognizing the importance of strategic planning and collaboration in navigating our economic future.
In 2021, they announced plans to increase foreign exchange reserves over the next five years, a proposal made amidst a dire shortage of foreign currency. However, little consideration was given to the practicalities of such a plan, akin to devising a recipe without considering the availability of ingredients.
Amidst the economic downturn, it became evident that recovery required comprehensive planning, a task championed solely by the United National Party. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, I engaged with the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, seeking their assistance. Regrettably, bureaucratic hurdles hindered progress.
The events of May 9th saw Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s resignation, with neither Sajith Premadasa nor Anura Dissanayake willing to assume the role amidst public unrest. Understandably, assuming leadership in such tumultuous times was untenable.
I vividly recall attending a wedding at the Shangri-La Hotel while protests raged outside. Despite being inside, no one approached me to leave—an affirmation of our commitment to transparency. Subsequently, discussions with backbench MPs and the President led to my appointment as Prime Minister, a responsibility no one else was willing to accept.
As Finance Minister, I engaged with the International Monetary Fund to secure support, amidst mounting challenges.
The events of July 9th, whether directly or indirectly, precipitated the former president’s departure and my assumption of greater responsibilities.
Despite facing adversity, our commitment to the United National Party’s principles remained unwavering. I accepted the responsibility entrusted to me, regardless of the risks. Ultimately, I was sworn in as Acting President, not in a government building, but at the Valukaramaya Temple, affirming our commitment to truth and integrity.
Contemplating an election, I envisioned unwavering support from within the United National Party, believing it possible to form a cohesive government and forge ahead. However, many opted not to join our ranks, subsequently securing positions in ministries. I extend a warm welcome back to Manusha and Harin.
Dissenting voices arose, with Dallas Alahapperuma and G.L. Peiris allegedly objecting to a United National Party member assuming the presidency. Sajith Premadasa and the SJB echoed these sentiments, asserting that the presidency should not be handed to the United National Party. Appealing to all for assistance in navigating the economic crisis, I sought counsel from Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, who acknowledged my role as the primary liaison with the International Monetary Fund.
Inconsistencies emerged regarding Mahinda Rajapaksa’s health and affiliations, further complicating matters within the political landscape.
My efforts to foster dialogue on loan transactions were met with resistance, with some advising against cooperation.
Undeterred, I remain committed to my stance, refusing to engage in discussions that deviate from our principles.
United National Party members find themselves marginalized within the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, raising concerns about the party’s direction and inclusivity. It is evident that the party has veered away from the principles upheld by the United National Party.
To those who did not support us in the past, I extend an invitation to join forces in safeguarding our nation from debt and laying the groundwork for a brighter future. Let us unite in our endeavours to build a stronger, more prosperous country for generations to come. Together, we shall strive towards this shared vision.
UNP Deputy Leader and Senior Adviser to the President on Climate Change Mr. Ruwan Wijewardene:
“The current populace stands as the backbone of the United National Party. Our nation has weathered severe challenges in the past. Without President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership, the trajectory of our nation would have been unthinkable. We collectively bear the weight of economic strain, akin to the discomfort of applying medicine to a wound.
Presently, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe administers the remedy to mend our economic woes. As the economy rebounds, further relief will reach our people. Greece’s economic crisis took 13 years to resolve, yet President Ranil Wickremesinghe achieved economic recovery within just 2 years.
Initially, the opposition clamoured for negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, a request the President fulfilled. However, they now hypocritically oppose these negotiations. The President eradicated the era of waiting queues, prompting baseless criticisms from certain political factions. To illuminate the nation’s realities, a series of nationwide meetings are convened. Former United National Party members are rallying back, reaffirming our readiness to triumph in any forthcoming elections.”
Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, National Organizer of the UNP and Presidential Senior Adviser on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff:
“It’s been quite a while since I attended such a gathering. Following the economic downturn, President Ranil Wickremesinghe took the helm of the nation’s presidency. The economic crisis stemmed from the policies of the previous administration, including mismanagement of government revenue and an abrupt halt to fertilizer usage. Upon assuming office, President Ranil Wickremesinghe inherited a meager foreign reserve, barely sufficient to procure a few gas tanks, let alone a fuel vessel.
Under his leadership, bolstered by diplomatic relations, the President stabilized the economy, ensuring essential supplies like gas and fuel remained accessible. Thanks to his administration’s efforts, the nation is witnessing a revival, akin to the economic status of 2019. Citizens are benefiting from relief measures and inheritance programs, reclaiming what was lost.
Today, progress and harmony flourish in the northern regions. A notable 106 individuals from the north have applied for officer positions in the air force, with an additional 156 seeking other roles. Through adept economic management and fostering national unity, our nation can ascend to greater heights.”
Former Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam:
“When the President entrusted me with this task, I selected Kuliapitiya as our primary battleground, drawing the largest crowd to witness our endeavours today. These attendees signify their trust in the President’s agenda.
Rest assured, the President remains resolute in preventing a recurrence of the economic collapse witnessed in 2019.
Hindering Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe equates to impeding the nation’s progress. History reveals that each time the United National Party relinquished power, the nation encountered crises. Should another economic downturn arise, the burden of recovery will weigh heavily with no clear responsibility.
Regardless of the forthcoming election, we are committed to diligently labouring for victory.”
United National Party General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara:
President Ranil Wickremesinghe has tirelessly laboured to dispel a sombre era and cultivate an environment conducive to the well-being of the populace. Merely two years ago, such gatherings were inconceivable. Presently, citizens enjoy a secure livelihood, a testament to President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s adept economic stewardship.
Throughout periods of United National Party absence from governance, the nation plunged into turmoil, devoid of capable leadership. President Wickremesinghe embraced this challenge, diligently working to safeguard the fundamental right to life for the nation’s inhabitants. Furthermore, concerted efforts have been undertaken to enhance livelihoods through initiatives like the Aswasuma and Urumaya programs.
United National Party Chairman, Member of Parliament Mr. Wajira Abeywardena:
The United National Party boasts a remarkable feat in global politics. Since 1994, its stalwart leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has valiantly confronted national crises with unwavering honesty, despite facing electoral defeats. In a mere two years, under his stewardship, the country rebounded from the economic turmoil of the early 2000s.
However, subsequent elections saw the electorate swayed by deceit and slander, resulting in defeat for the United National Party. In the 2015 presidential polls, a different candidate emerged victorious, striving to elevate the nation’s economy. In the 2019 presidential race, a policy statement warned of an impending economic crisis by 2022 if $300 billion was not secured—an alarm dismissed by the ruling regime of that time.
Remarkably, the United National Party holds a unique distinction globally: of simultaneously holding the positions of
Prime Minister and President while maintaining only one parliamentary seat. This visionary leader deserves another term as president in the upcoming election. Let us rally behind the leadership that safeguarded our rights, ensuring a brighter future for all.
Mr. Ravi Karunanayake, the Team Leader of the United National Party in the Colombo District:
The United National Party stands as the oldest political entity in our nation, with a rich history of contributing significantly to its development. Notably, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s remarkable journey from securing the presidency with just one MP exemplifies our party’s resilience and influence.
The economic turmoil of 2022 brought about fuel and gas shortages, causing inconvenience and long queues. Mr. Wickremesinghe courageously took on the task of revitalizing the economy, ensuring the people’s fundamental right to livelihood is safeguarded today.
Reflecting on past electoral decisions driven by necessity, such as voting for basic necessities like rice and affordable bread, we recognize the need for a modern and competitive economic system. This vision is currently underway, prompting us to contemplate whether we will propel our nation forward or hold it back.
In the recent general election, a significant number of United National Party members chose silence. I extend an invitation to re-engage these individuals, urging them to participate actively in future elections and collaborate with other parties to secure victories for the betterment of our nation.
Mr. Manusha Nanayakkara, Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment Promotion:
The opposition’s claim of being unable to mobilize is contradicted by the overwhelming presence of Jana Ganga supporters in Kuliapitiya today, signaling a promising victory for the United National Party in the upcoming election.
Despite Kainayake’s current misinformation campaign, the truth remains evident to the people. They remember the tumultuous events of 1988-89 and recognize the lack of significant progress during Chandrika’s presidency or the 2015 term under President Sirisena. Despite the JVP’s reluctance to support sending money abroad, President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s steadfast commitment to stabilizing the nation’s economy deserves commendation.
Given the lack of room for experimentation in our nation’s affairs, I implore our cherished citizens to rally behind the return of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the architect of our economic success.