Nov 04, Colombo: The Working Committee of Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party at its meeting today approved the establishment of the Leadership Council to lead the fractured party with a shaky start as a former deputy leader of the party withdrew his name form the council in protest.
The Working Committee met this afternoon and appointed former deputy leader Gampaha District parliamentarian Karu Jayasuriya as the Chairman of the nine-member Council but his colleague Sajith Premadasa withdrew his name from the Council as the Working Committee failed to follow the process proposed by the Maha Sangha.
The Leadership Council will assume the powers assigned to the current UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe to lead the party which suffered a humiliating defeat at the recent provincial polls.
Wickremasinghe, Jayasuriya and Premadasa held discussions earlier today before the Working Committee meeting to discuss the proposals presented by the United Bhikku Front (UBF) at a meeting yesterday.
The influential Buddhist monks' organization has proposed to appoint Jayasuriya as the chairman of the Council and suggested the three seniors to appoint three members each, including themselves to the nine-member Leadership Council.
The Bhikku Front also proposed that the term, 'Leader/ Adviser' in the UNP Constitution be replaced with the Leadership Council and that the Chairman of the Leadership Council should chair the Working Committee meetings.
Jayasuriya and Premadasa have already agreed to the three proposals and have signed the agreement.
However, Premadasa told media that he decided to withdraw over several shortcomings on appointing members to the Council and the Working Committed did not follow the proposals from the Maha Sangha.
"I had to withdraw my name as a mark of respect to Maha Sangha since there were several shortcomings and limitations of these proposals," he said.
"I cannot disregard the conditions to which were agreed in the presence of Maha Sangha and I cannot reject their proposals, " he added.
The Convener of the Bhikkhu Front Ven. Ulapane Sumangala Thera said that they oppose the decisions reached at the Working Committee meeting and refuse to accept the Leadership Council appointed today.
The Thera accused the UNP leader of deceiving the people and the Maha Sangha as usual and appointing his own supporters to the Leadership Council.
He said the members appointed to the Council were the same people who steered the party to its downfall.
The Working Committee nominated parliamentarians Tissa Attanayake, Mangala Samaraweera, Sajith Premadasa, Ravi Karunanayaka, Ruwan Wijewardena, Thalatha Atukorale, Lakshman Kiriella and Kabir Hashim to the Council.