in UNP for Colombo Mayor’s post
The Opposition UNP which controls the majority of the local government
councils around the country appointed a Nomination Board to vet
prospective candidates as a major controversy has arisen over the
biggest of them all - the Colombo Municipal Council.
week, two Colombo city-based MPs, Milinda Moragoda (Colombo East
and Colombo West) and Mohammed Maharoof (Colombo Central) descended
on party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and demanded he appoint a former
Mayor, Sirisena Cooray for the top-job.
had also taken senior party stalwart M.H. Mohamed (Borella), himself
a one-time city father, with them to apply pressure on the party
leader, and later claimed that Mr. Wickremesinghe had agreed to
nominate Mr. Cooray as the party's choice for the Mayoralty.
Mohamed, however, says that he did not support Mr. Cooray's candidature,
while Mr. Maharoof insists that the three of them fully supported
Mr. Cooray for the post.
contacted by The Sunday Times, Mr. Mohamed denied that he was supporting
‘any candidate’, and declined to comment on his meeting
with the party leader on the issue this week.
sources said that the Moragoda-Maharoof combine ‘ambushed’
the party leader and threatened him with withdrawing their support
unless Mr. Cooray was made the party's Mayoral choice, an allegation
denied by their aides. They say that the Moragoda-Maharoof duo only
made a ‘request’.
to them, a suggestion to select the candidate who gets the highest
number of preferential votes was scuttled on the basis that Mr.
Cooray who now lives in Adelaide, Australia will contest only on
the condition that he be the sole choice for Mayor of Colombo.
Cooray was a UNP mayor from 1983 to 1993 , and party secretary under
President Ranasinghe Premadasa, but left the party in 1994 following
differences with Mr. Wickremesinghe's leadership. He later contested
Parliamentary elections as leader of the Puravesi Peramuna (Citizens
Front), but returned to the UNP fold at last November's Presidential
elections to support Mr. Wickremesinghe's candidature.
sources said that following an agreement on party reforms a fortnight
ago following the defeat of Mr. Wickremesinghe, it was agreed that
party deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya would run the forthcoming local
Jayasuriya was not available for comment on this issue. A separate
nomination board on which Mr. Wickremesinghe, Mr. Jayasuriya, the
party secretary and deputy secretary, Jayawickrama Perera and P.
Dayaratna are among the members would pick the candidates for the
country-wide polls, but party sources said that the Mayor's post
for the different municipal councils would be a decision left to
the party leader in consultation with the deputy leader who was
to manage the campaign.
others have also thrown their hat into the Colombo Mayor's ring,
among them deputy mayor Azad Sally, former mayor Omar Kamil, and
one time Aviation Authority head Hemasiri Fernando. Incumbent Mayor
Prasanna Gunawardena has also expressed his interest in retaining