ECONOMYNEXT – A majority of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) are behind the candidacy of SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma with opposition leader Sajith Premadasa tipped to be prime minister in a crucial election to be held on Wednesday July 20 to choose Sri Lanka’s next executive president, an official said.
Party chairman MP G L Peiris told reporters in parliament on Tuesday that parliament reflects the views of the public.
“It is crystal clear what the people want right now. They want change, a fresh start, a new way of governance. That is the people’s will, and we must act accordingly in parliament,” said Peiris.
However, reports indicate a split in the SLPP about Wednesday’s crucial vote. SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam has announced that the party will back Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is not a member of the SLPP, at the vote.
Peiris fired a sternly worded letter to Kariyawasam over the weekend demanding an explanation as to how the party came to this decision. Kariyawasam has yet to respond to the letter, but told reporters on Monday that the decision to support Wickremesinghe remains.
Alahapperuma’s name was proposed by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa who backed out of the race at the last minute. Peiris seconded his name, seconds before Leader of the House and Minister Dinesh Gunawardena proposed Wickremesinghe’s name which was seconded by MP Manusha Nanayakkara who recently crossed over from Premadasa’s Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB).
Asked if it was his personal choice to second Alahapperuma’s candidacy, Peiris said: “It is the wish of a vast majority of the party.”
Denying that the SLPP is divided, the MP said a handful are of a different view from the official party line but that is natural and to be expected in any political party.
The party is also agreeable to making Premadasa prime minister, he added, calling for consensus between the two main parties to meet people’s expectations as Sri Lanka goes through its worst economic crisis since Independence.