54 MPs ask Ranil for key party group meetings

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UNP Chairman Kabir Hashim has handed over a letter signed by 54 MPs to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe requesting him to convene the party’s working committee and the parliamentary group in order name the presidential candidate within seven days.

Non-Cabinet Minister Ajith P Perera told journalists that this letter signed by 54 MPs was handed over by Mr. Hashim earlier yesterday. “We believe we can get the matter with regard to the candidature resolved through dialogue,” he said.

Non-Cabinet Minister Harsha de Silva said the letter was handed over yesterday morning. He said the party members will receive the news on the candidate within the coming days. “Party members will get to know about the candidate in a few days time,” he said. He said no one would go against the party leadership but would arrive at a decision on the candidature collectively.

General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said the new alliance will be formed soon. “Many including those from the SLFP and SLPP are waiting to join our new alliance,” Mr. Kariyawasam said.

He told the media later during the day that he had no knowledge about a letter being handed over to the Prime Minister. “If the MPs handed over a letter they should have discussed about it at the group meeting. However they did not do so,” he said.

In another development Minister Daya Gamage said the candidate would be chosen by a vote of the working committee and the parliamentary group in the event there are two nominees. “Choosing a candidate through a vote is a tradition of the UNP and this tradition will be followed if there are two nominees,” he said.