ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena said the entry of ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa will lead to the defeat of his party at upcoming polls and he was firmly against a party decision to put him forward as a candidate.
"The Mahinda Rajapaksa who lost on January 08, will also lose in the future," Sirisena told reporters in Colombo.
Sirisena left his Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the broader United National People’s Alliance to join the then opposition United National Party and defeat Rajapaksa in January 2015. He was then offered the party leadership by Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa then wanted to return to politics with leaders of UPFA coalition and also SLFP senior backing him.
Sirisena said he turned down the first request to name Rajapaksa as a candidate or Prime Ministerial candidate because there was a question over basic qualifications needed to win an election.
"I told him Tamil and Muslim people of this country will not vote for him. There was a wave sweeping all over the world against corruption and mis-use of power. I told at a time when educated and thinking people, the middle class expected me to bring good governance, you are lacking in that area.
"Young people will not vote for you due to the big wrongs committed during your period, due to your feudal and nepotism.
"So please do not come to an election and defeat this party."
Sirisena said he did not want to divide his Sri Lanka Freedom Party. In Sri Lanka there was a two party system and in the past when one party was severely weakened, it led to the loss of freedoms of people.
Sirisena said some media and critics were castigating him in a way not seen in this country since the executive presidency came, but under him there was freedom and democracy to do so.
"Democracy and freedom is flowering," he said.
He said the fate of those who criticized the Rajapaksa family was well known, but now he could be freely criticized.