UNP in major drive for activists - paper

[TamilNet, Monday, 30 May 2005, 02:51 GMT]
Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP), which is gradually building up its campaign for the next presidential election, has launched a major campaign to mobilize a 150,000 strong activist force to bolster its vote base, Sunday Times reported this week.

Party sources told the paper that the party's 'triple wings' – Yowun Peramuna (youth front), Lakwanitha (women's wing) and the party branch – had been directed to enlist five activists each to the units from every electorate.

They said the new activists would be trained to conduct grassroots level and house-to-house campaigns to win back the lost voters in preparation for any surprise election or a referendum.

The sources said the party was setting up new offices and branches of the women's wing and the youth front throughout the island and five members from each unit would form the propaganda force in every electorate.

They said the party's propaganda would highlight five negatives of the UPFA government – corruption, the rising cost of living, unemployment, non-implementation of pledges and the lack of development.

They said the new membership drive would be completed before the party's ten-day Matara-to-Colombo protest march which would culminate in Colombo with a massive anti-government rallly dubbed Janabala Meheyuma.

The UNP has nominated its leader, Ranil Wickremsinghe, as its candidate for the Presidential elections. It is not clear whom its main rival, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) will select. The incumbent President Chandrika Kumaratunga, is not eligible to run again, as she is in her second term, the maximum permitted by the constitution.

President Kumratunga is seeking to abolish Sri Lanka’s executive presidency and transfer its extensive powers to the Prime Minister’s post, for which she is elegible to run. However, her ruling coalition – which includes the SLFP and the ultra-nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP) - does not have the requisite two thirds majority in Parliament.


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