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Wickramasinghe re-elected opposition party leader

[Hindu, Tuesday, 20 December 2011 09:01 No Comment]

The Hindu A file picture of former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe. Photo: M. Vedhan. Braving the first serious challenge since he took over as party president, Ranil Wickramasinghe was re-elected leader of the United National Party (UNP) on Monday. He defeated the rebel group candidate, Karu Jayasuriya, by a margin of 48 votes. In a secret ballot held on Monday, Mr. Wickramasinghe polled 72 votes while Karu Jayasuriya received 24 votes.

UNP, Sri Lanka’s oldest party which is now the main opposition force, has been facing internal trouble following electoral defeats at the hands of the ruling SLFP-led UFPA. Some UNP leaders, rallying behind the former UNP strongman R. Premadasa’s son, Sajith Premadasa, have tried repeatedly to unseat Mr. Wickramasinghe.

Attempts by UNP seniors to amicably resolve the leadership crisis failed, and the stage was set for the election. In November, a rebel group within the UNP had listed 20 allegations against Mr. Wickramasinghe .The charges included his failure to organise the party in a manner in which it could secure power.

Mr. Wickramasinghe, who has been heading the UNP since November 1994, has always managed to stay ahead of his detractors. Though he looked on the backfoot for the better part of this year, Mr. Wickramasinghe has again proved that he was a better strategist than his opponents.

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