Gota returns; will candidacy follow?
Gotabaya Rajapaksa is back in the country and his close supporters are confident that come August 11 he will be anointed as the Presidential Candidate of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) at the new party’s first national convention.
“We will support the party only if he is the candidate,” Retd. Admiral Sarath Weerasekara told RepublicNext. “If the candidate is someone else we will not support them,” he added.
Gotabaya’s spokesman Colombo Municipal Councilor Milinda Rajapaksha (no relation) said he is very confident his boss will be the chosen one.
“Mahinda Rajapaksa will invite the SLPP to nominate a candidate and they will nominate Gotabaya and then he will be invited to accept the candidature,” the spokesman told RepublicNext.
Gotabaya also received an endorsement from a prominent member of the SLPP’s Women’s Wing Pavitra Wanniarachchi this morning.
She told a press conference at the party headquarters in Battaramulla “it must be Gota as the candidate.”
According to the de facto leader of the SLPP Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa, there are five possible candidates being proposed as the candidate by different constituent parties in a broader front.
Talking to reporters in Colombo on Monday Rajapaksa said that he has not mentioned a particular name for the candidacy as yet.
“I haven’t mentioned Gotabaya’s name yet,” Rajapaksa has said.
Among the names mentioned in the list are current Opposition Whip Dinesh Gunewardene and former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa the oldest member of the family in politics.
Gotabaya returned to the country today July 24, after two months in Singapore where he reportedly underwent Open Heart surgery.
There may be good news awaiting him as the Attorney General’s Department has undertaken to amend indictments filed against Gotabaya in the D A Rajapaksa Memorial misappropriations case.
In this case, Rajapaksa and six others are charged with spending Rs. 35 million of public funds to build a memorial for Rajapaksa’s father and former Minister D. A. Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa has been using various legal tactics to keep postponing this trial and if the indictments are amended there will be a further delay.