Karu Jayasuriya emerging as the UNF Presidential candidate

Presidential hopeful Speaker Karu Jayasuriya pays his respects to the late Sobitha Thero.

September 18, 2019 (LBO) – Speaker of Parliament, and one of Sri Lanka’s most distinguished statesman, Karu Jayasuriya has emerged as the frontrunner to be nominated as the UNF candidate for the Presidency.

The largest party in the UNF alliance, the UNP, is likely to soon endorse Jayasuriya’s candidacy through its apex decision making body, the Working Committee.

Jayasuriya’s experience is multidisciplinary. He has been a military officer, businessman, diplomat, and politician. In politics he is identified as a moderate who appeals to the minorities as well as the majority ethnic and religious communities. He is also a favourite of civil society groups which were crucial to the victory of the UNF alliance in the last Presidential election.

During Sri Lanka’s constitutional crisis, he successfully fought for the rights of Parliament against an encroaching Executive President. He took a stand in the face of intimidation and even violence within the chamber of Parliament.

One of the key tenets of Karu Jayasuriya’s political platform will be the abolition of the Executive Presidency. In a recent interview with the Daily Mirror he articulated his position on the issue:

“Whoever the candidate is, my goal is the abolition of the Executive Presidency. I will support that mission with all my heart. That is an oath I will sign in my own blood. What is most important to me is that we put forward any candidate, whoever it is, who can be trusted to finish the abolition of the Executive Presidency. If Ven. Sobitha Thero was here, he would want us all to remain united, and work as one movement to get behind a single candidate who will finish the process of restoring real accountable democratic government to this country.”

Karu Jayasuriya’s main opponent for the Presidency is a fellow former military officer, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Both candidates are past pupils of Ananda College, the largest national Buddhist school for Sri Lankan boys.