Karu accepts request to contest for leadership of Sri Lanka opposition party

Dec 05, Colombo: The deputy leader of Sri Lanka’s main opposition united national Party (UNP), Karu Jayasuriya has decided to accept the requests from various groups including the reformist group of the party and challenge the current leader for leadership of the crisis-ridden party.

In a statement released to media Monday, the co-deputy leader said he has decided to listen to the requests from his own party activists, religious leaders and other civil groups to seek election for the leadership post.

He said all the activists had expressed concern over the deterioration of the party to the current lowly position, where “it can no longer function as a credible, independent, democratic opposition.”

The party is losing the support of the grass root members every day and the party has become a joke in the eyes of the public, he has said.

He commented that a small group in the party has taken hostage the majority of the party supporters and the nation.

Jayasuriya said that he and other activists of the party discussed the pressing issues with the current leader Ranil Wickremasinghe many times but all their efforts failed.

“The only thing we won is the isolation. We were never informed nor consulted on anything regarding the party,” the deputy leader lamented.

When Ranil Wickremasinghe recently left for London to attend the Commonwealth inter Parliamentary union in Britain, he appointed parliamentarian John Amaratunga as the acting leader of the party while the party has two co-deputy leaders, Jayasuriya and Sajith Premadasa.

“We preach for freedom of expression, but it does not exist in our party. We preach for democracy, but it is not in our party. We preach for the need of transparency, but there is nothing like that in the party. All we have is the disunity and devious manipulations for revenge,” the deputy leader said in his statement.

Although the party complains of the government’s dictatorship, the party has forgotten the authoritarianism existing within itself, Jayasuriya pointed out.

The Gampaha district MP said the co-deputy leader, Sajith Premadasa, in a letter to him pointed out that in the recent years 61 MPs crossed over to the UPFA government and some of them are holding powerful ministerial portfolios.

He pointed out that the during the last 16 years since 1994 UNP’s voter base has dropped to a dismal 29% from a 45% in 1994.

He asked whether it should be allowed for one person or a small group to systematically and continually destroy the party in such a manner.

Speaking of his brief stint with the government, the co-deputy leader said he never expected a position and at the time he was motivated to support the government to end the war against the terrorism. Although the war was over, the peace has not dawned yet, he said, adding that the violence and corruption are on the rise.

Jayasuriya said he questions himself whether he took a wrong decision to support the government but emphasized that he supported the government openly and also came back to the party openly.

Considering all the requests made to him, he has decided to contest for the leadership as he no longer can ignore the requests to save the party.

He said he is aware of many pitfalls and obstacles and devious attempts that may come in his way but pledged to fulfill the requests of those who have appealed to him to save and unite the party irrespective of any consequences.

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