Colombo, Sep 8 (PTI) Sri Lanka’s oldest political party the UNP will not undergo any changes in its top leadership this year, a party official said on Tuesday, dismissing speculations that former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe could step down as its leader.
Wickremesinghe, who holds the position of the United National Party (UNP) leader, would continue until the end of this year, the party's legal secretary Nissanka Nanayakkara told reporters.
'The leader's term would end on December 31,” Nanayakkara said, adding that the current vacancy in the deputy leader's position would be filled up soon as the precursor to appointing a new leader.
'The newly-appointed deputy leader can automatically succeed the current leader from January 1,” he said.
The party's deputy leader and presidential candidate in November last year, Sajith Premadasa, formed his own party SJB (Samagi Jana Balawegaya) and did better than Wickremesinghe's UNP by winning 54 seats and became the largest Opposition party.
The UNP was subject to its worst electoral defeat with no seats from any of the districts and being reduced to just two per cent. Wickremesinghe failed to get elected for the first time in 43 years.
Nanayakkara said that for the deputy leader's position, anyone of the leadership aspirants could contest.
Several people, including former World Cup winning cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga, have expressed willingness to succeed Wickremesinghe as the UNP leader.
Wickremesinghe continues to be the party leader since December 1994 despite repeated calls for his resignation after many electoral defeats. PTI CORR CPS