Colombo: Karu Jayasuriya, a contender to
head Sri Lanka`s main opposition UNP, on Friday embarked on a key
visit to India, amid a leadership struggle following the
dismal performance of the party in the local polls last week.
Jayasuriya, the acting leader of the United National
Party (UNP) departed on the visit to India, party officials
said. Only yesterday he was thrust into the possible role to
head the UNP.
Sajith Premadasa, the leadership aspirant against the
incumbent party chief Ranil Wickremesinghe, said yesterday
that Jayasuriya had agreed to be the UNP leader in order to
unite the Wickremesinghe and Premadasa factions.
Jayasuriya himself in a statement said that he was
willing to step into any role in the party to unite different
factions in order to lead the party to end its long streak in
opposition since 1994.
However, in a statement issued from London,
Wickremesinghe said that he had assigned the task of uniting
the party to Jayasuriya. The former prime minsiter mentioned
no plans to cut short his UK visit and return to the country
in view of the crisis.
The leadership issue which was resolved in March has
surfaced since the party`s defeat in Saturday`s local council
The UNP failed to win a single council out of the 65
which went to polls. They were able to poll a dismal 22 per
cent of the vote.
Wickremesinghe has come under focus for many an
internal revolt for leading the party towards a string of
election defeats since 1994.
He has managed to stave off all such challenges and
remain the party leader.