Premadasa Camp In Soup Over Conflicting Views On Abolition Of Executive Presidency: Sajith's Ambivalence On Presidency Irks TNA

September 17, 2019

Sajith Premadasa and Dr. Harsha de Silva have expressed their indecisiveness over the abolition of the Executive Presidency as the tussle to secure the UNP nomination for the candidacy for the Presidential election nears an end.

Dr. de Silva, a loyalist of Premadasa, in a tweet, had referenced a Centre for Policy Alternative’s (CPA) report which he claimed had illustrated that public perception was shifting away from the abolition of the Executive Presidency. However, Dr. Asanga Welikala, current Director at the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law and formerly attached to CPA, has ridiculed Dr. de Silva’s analysis of the survey. In a tweet responding to Harsha De Silva, Dr. Welikala had stated “Very disappointing and disingenuous of you to use this data in this way @HarshadeSilvaMP.”

When asked about the future of the Presidency at Tuesday’s (17) press conference, Premadasa was unable to give a coherent answer, holding firm to the stance that there has been no scientific survey done on the abolition or maintenance of the Presidency.

Shortly after Premadasa’s press conference, the Tamil National Alliance tweeted an article with TNA spokesperson, M.A. Sumanthiran, highlighting their alliance’s support for the abolition of the Presidency, adding that this has been their stance throughout.

Premadasa’s stance regarding the abolition of the Presidency is all the more surprising considering the fact that the United National Party has continually maintained the need to abolish it. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, speaking at an event at Temple Trees, re-iterated his commitment to the abolition of the Presidency. A platform shared by the Speaker of Parliament, Karu Jayasuriya.

With the possibility of Premadasa securing the UNP nomination dimming, it would appear that their last throw of the dice is to scuttle talks with the TNA in the hope that their absence in an alliance would force the UNP leadership to nominate Sajith Premadasa.

However, electoral surveys and political pundits have all agreed that support from the Tamil parties is necessary if the UNP is to surmount the necessary 50%+1 for victory at the election. If these predictions are to be believed, then the question must be asked as to what the Premadasa loyalists hope to gain from securing the candidacy in a losing battle

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