ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s main opposition coalition has agreed to field ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa at upcoming elections in a last ditch attempt to prevent a damaging split in the party that would benefit its major rival.
Leaders of several constituent parties of United People’s Freedom Alliance coalition told reporters in Colombo Friday that the mechanism to prepare nominations would begin from today, but did not say which party Rajapaksa would contest from.
Rajapaksa is still an advisor of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party of which is now led by President Maithripala Sirisena and is the main constituent party of the broader UPFA coalition. Sirisena is also the leader of the UPFA.
Sirisena had earlier been adamant that Rajapaksa would not be given nomination as a candidate of the prime ministerial candidate from the SLFP.
But UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha said in a statement Friday that Rajapaksa would be given nomination by the coalition.
The question a Prime Ministerial candidate does not arise since the person who has the most confidence of the parliament would be made the prime minister by President Sirisena, Dallas Allahapperuma, a from a faction of the SLFP backing Rajapaksa said.
Senior SLFP officials, including Premajayantha who represents the ‘Sirisena faction’ of the party were absent from the media conference.
Wimal Weerawansa, a leader of the National Freedom Party, a minor but vocal party in the UPFA coalition said there were still ‘issues’ he expected them to be ironed out in the next few days.
The nominations would have to be given to the election chief from during the week starting from July 06.
Dinesh Gunewardene, the leader of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna said they now had a strong of defeating the ruling United National Party to form a government.