UNP committee proposes sweeping party reforms

By Our Political Editor

By Our Political Editor
The six-member United National Party (UNP) Reforms Committee is to recommend that the party leadership be elected by the Working Committee and the Parliamentary Group and the creation of an Advisory Council of the party leadership to make all other appointments in the party including electoral organisers, the Sunday Times learns.

The posts up for election would include those of the party leader, the deputy leader, assistant leader, national organiser and chairman. The Committee has reached agreement that the general secretary of the party be the nominee of the party leader, but has disagreed over the party leader appointing the treasurer as well.

The leader, the deputy leader, the assistant leader, the chairman and the general secretary would form the advisory council that would make all other appointments including those of electoral organisers. Such appointments made by the five-member Advisory Council would need the sanction of the Working Committee and the Parliamentary Group.

The Reforms Committee which was appointed by the party's Working Committee to make recommendations to 'democratise' the party leadership has decided not to engage the provincial council and local council members in the election of the party leadership on the basis that it would be too unwieldy and lead to splits in the party at grassroots level, the Sunday Times learns. These recommendations will effectively clip the powers hitherto held solely by the party leader to make all such appointments. The Reforms Committee report which is to be finalised today (Sunday) after obtaining an extension of time to complete its recommendations has still to find a solution to avoid a split in the party should there be a contest for the leadership, the Sunday Times learns.

The Committee, headed by former Speaker Joseph Michael Perera, had a 90-minute meeting with Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at the parliamentary complex on Thursday. The Committee was consulting him on matters relating to the recommendations it proposed to make. One related to the number of persons that should constitute the Working Committee.

The Committee had in an interim report earlier recommended that the party leader should be elected following agitation by a section of the party for reforms in the immediate aftermath of one of its worst defeats at the April parliamentary elections. Mr. Wickremesinghe has already told the Committee that the secretary as well as the treasurer should be picked by the leader who is elected. He opined that it would give the leader the responsibility of picking compatible persons who could work as a team. The Reforms Committee appears to have accepted the first point that the secretary should be the leader's nominee but disagreed with the second, i.e. that the treasurer should also be his nominee.

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