Despite many obstacles, the pro-reforms group of Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National Party (UNP) held their sathyagraha (protest) yesterday at Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo demanding that party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe steps down and hands over the leadership to deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya.
The massive group of protesters gathered at the Viharamahadevi Park demanded the immediate resignation of the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. Sajith Premadasa, Dayasiri Jayasekera, Rosie Senanayake and Sujeewa Senasinghe along with a number of parliamentarians attended the meeting.
The protest was planned to be held outside Sirikotha, the party headquarters where the Working Committee meeting of the party was taking place but a last-minute court order forced the pro-reformists group led by deputy leader Sajith Premadasa to shift the venue to Viharamahadevi Park.
The Gangodawila Magistrate’s Court issued an enjoining order preventing any protests, illegal gatherings or processions in front of the UNP headquarters yesterday (17). Further the police obtained an order to prevent any interruptions to the UNP members attending the Working Committee meeting scheduled to be held this evening at the headquarters.
The police meanwhile, closed the main road leading to Sirikotha saying the road closure was due to some road construction taking place. The police advised the public to use alternative roads when travelling to Kotte as road construction work was being carried out at Bangalahandiya, Beddagana and Pitakotte.
Premadasa stated that he would respect the court decision preventing any demonstrations outside the UNP headquarters and would shift the planned demonstration to the Viharamahadevi Park.
Sources at the meeting said a bag containing wasps was found at the site and MP Dayasiri Jayasekera stated that it was planted among the gathering allegedly by Gemunu Wijeratne, Chairman, Private Bus Owners’ Association.
The organisers accused Party Leader Wickremesinghe of making an underhand deal with the government to scuttle the protest.
“I’ve not said this before but I am saying this now, that the leadership of the UNP and the government have a deal going on,” Premadasa has said.
The reformists say it has been proven that from the past several elections the present government has no challenge from the Opposition under Wickremesinghe’s leadership and removing Wickremesinghe from the leadership is the first step to remove the present government from power.
The group proposes that UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe remain as the Opposition Leader while Jayasuriya is appointed as the party leader.