Sri Lanka’s former finance minister and senior United National Party (UNP) leader Ravi Karunayake said his party had now been cleansed of those who had been “speaking against Buddhism… and standing up only for the minorities” in a press conference this morning.
“The UNP is now completely clean of any allegations of speaking against Buddhism, of speaking for extremists and of standing up only for the minorities,” Karunanayake told reporters.
His comments come after Sajith Premadasa, leader of the UNP, said the party will have a new “vision and outlook” and pledged to “give the top most priority to the security of the Sinhala Buddhist motherland” in the wake of a presidential election loss last year.
“The UNP is an old party that was created by D S Senanayake, Dudely Senanayake and J R Jayawardene,” added Karunanayake. “It is our inheritance to protect. If [party leader] Ranil Wickremesinghe had not been lenient with the dissenters and controlled the party with a tight fist, those problems would not have arisen.”
The UNP suspended parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake earlier this year for statements “made against Buddhism and Buddhist monks”.
Though the UNP lost presidential elections in November to Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), both parties campaigned on staunchly Sinhala Buddhist platforms, vowing not to prosecute Sri Lankan troops accused of war crimes and extensively paying deference to senior Buddhist clergy.