The alliance was formed amid speculation that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would dissolve the Parliament this week, paving the way for snap elections in April, months ahead of the schedule.
President Rajapaksa, who named his elder brother and former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa as the prime minister of the caretaker cabinet in December, can now legally dissolve Parliament and call an election. He had earlier said he wanted two-thirds seats in the 225-member assembly.
Premadasa, the deputy leader of the UNP, launched the new Samagi Janabala Wegaya or the United People''s Force with the traditional minority Muslim and Tamil allies of UNP joining the coalition. The new alliance was launched despite an impasse over its symbol.
The notable absentee at the ceremony was the UNP leader and former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
"Over 90 per cent of the UNP are with us, we will soon settle all our problems and contest the election under the new alliance," said Ranjith Madduma Bandara, the general secretary of the new alliance.
Serious differences have emerged within the UNP over the next parliamentary election. The UNP working committee has approved Premadasa, who lost the presidential candidate in November, as the party''s prime ministerial aspirant in the upcoming election.
Premadasa was empowered to forge an alliance.
The Wickremesinghe camp and the Premadasa camp had not arrived at an agreement on the symbol even as at.
The UNP has decided to contest the election under the ''elephant'' symbol while Premadasa-led alliance wanted a different symbol.
"The working committee has decided to contest the election under the elephant symbol. The party cannot constitutionally give away the elephant symbol to another party," Wickremesinghe told reporters.
Wickremesinghe, 70, was forced to hand over both the presidential candidate''s position and the opposition leader''s position to Premadasa, 52.
However, Wickremesinghe wants to remain the UNP leader, a position he had continuously held over the last 25 years. PTI CORR ZH ZH
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI