Sri Lanka ex-president’s party hit by more defections

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party was hit by more defections Sunday but he apparently survived an attempt to be ousted as leader.

A group of 10 Sri Lanka Freedom Party rebel legislators pledged support to newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena and declared him to be the leader of the party. North Central Provincial Council strongman Dayasiri Jayasekera also decamped.

But Rajapaksa told reporters he still had the support of the party’s central committee.

Sarath Amunugama, Reginald Cooray, Vijith Vijithamuni Soysa, Jagath Pushpakumara, S B Navinna, Nilwala Wijesinghe, Piyasena Gamage, Athauda Seneviratne and Janaka Bandara Tennakoon pledged support to Sirisena.

With the latest defections the former ruling coalition United People’s Freedom Alliance has been reduced to 117 out of 225.

Rajapaksa is expected to be brought back to parliament through the so-called ‘nationalist list’ of appointed members.