Will hand over UNP to young leader: Ex-SL PM

Former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has announced his decision to step down as the leader of the UNP after remaining at the helm for 26 years, said the party will be handed over to a young leader after the provincial council elections.

Addressing a meeting at the United National Party headquarters in Sirikotha, he also said that a new mechanism will be created initially where the younger members could play a major role in the party, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported on Monday.

On August 10, the former Prime Minister announced his decision which came almost a week after the August 5 parliamentary elections, where the UNP, one of Sri Lanka’s oldest political parties, did not manage to win any seat.

At the meeting, Wickremesinghe said: “We will work in line with the decision made in the working committee to hand over the party to a younger leader. Initially, a mechanism will be created under which younger members of the party could play a greater role in the party.

“This will be done after the provincial council elections. The members of the new mechanism will play a big role in the provincial council election campaign.

“We are in a new era. In 1931 when Sri Lanka got universal franchise, there was only print media present. However, there is a digital platform today. Therefore, youth should be engaged to play a greater role in this new platform.”

Wickremesinghe took over as the UNP leader in 1994 after from former President D.B. Wijetunga had who resigned.

He then went on to serve as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on three occasions.