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Sri Lanka’s ruling party to go it alone in parliamentary polls

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Colombo, June 19 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s ruling United National Party (UNP) on Friday announced it would contest the upcoming parliamentary elections independently, an official said.

UNP senior member and Plantation Industries Minister Lakshman Kiriella told journalists in Colombo that the party’s decision to contest solo was taken at the UNP working committee meeting held on Friday morning to discuss the elections.

Kiriella said the committee has also decided to allow UNP leader, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to appoint a nominations board to select the UNP candidates who would contest the parliamentary elections.

The ruling UNP has been in the recent weeks calling on President Maithripala Sirisena to dissolve parliament immediately, stating that the 100 days’ mandate it had been given since the January 8 presidential election has come to an end.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith Perera said last week the party would make a written request to the president to dissolve parliament without further delay in order to elect a new government.

Speaking to Xinhua news agency on Friday, Perera expressed confidence in winning the parliamentary election so that the UNP could continue in government despite claims by the opposition that the present minority government has lost the confidence of the people.

“The opposition is weak. We are confident we will win,” he said.

President Sirisena has assured the political parties that the parliamentary elections would be held once the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, which includes key electoral reforms, is passed in parliament.

The amendment is expected to be presented to parliament in the coming weeks after which its immediate dissolution is expected.

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