United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has told party members to refrain from disrupting today’s UNP Special Convention, saying any disruption could give grounds for persons to challenge the new UNP Constitution that the party hopes to approve.
Mr. Wickremesinghe yesterday said the convention at the party headquarters at Sirikotha, Pitakotte, was open only to those who have been invited. “We have limited the number of members who can attend the convention,” the UNP leader said. “If anyone comes uninvited and the proceedings are disrupted, then the new Constitution that we approve can be challenged.”
Mr. Wickremesinghe, along with Party chairman MP Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya, and General Secretary Tissa Attanayaka, spoke to the media yesterday morning about the special convention, as well as attempts to stop the event from being held today through a court order.
“An attempt was made to stop the convention,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said. “We had our lawyers stand by the whole day in anticipation of such a situation, and they were able to intervene and have the matter resolved. Because of that, the attempt failed.”
The main purpose of the special convention is to approve to the new party Constitution, with reforms that the UNP Working Committee has unanimously passed.
The reforms relate to the election of the Leader, Deputy Leaders, and other senior party members by an electoral college, and will be put in place within 120 days of the new party reforms being approved.
UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayaka said persons working under a “contract of the government” were behind the move to disrupt the holding of the special convention on a Sunday. They were attempting to do this through a court order, he said.
“Our party leader and others had anticipated such a move, and we gave a proxy to our lawyers to act on our behalf in case such a situation arose. People acting on the contract of the government were behind this move. Now we have the legal go-ahead to hold the special convention,” he said.
Around 13,000 members of the UNP have been invited to the special convention, 55 from each electorate’s “balamandalaya”, as well as members of trade unions, professional bodies, local government and provincial council members. Some 9,500 members have confirmed that they will be attending the convention.
“Only the task of endorsing the new Constitution will be taken up [on Sunday],” Mr. Attanayaka said.
UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuirya said the special convention should be conducted in a united and peaceful manner. “The Constitution must be approved unanimously, and then we must work towards winning the upcoming Local Government and Provincial Council elections,” he said.