ECONOMYNEXT – The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is split between supporting President Ranil Wickremesinghe and a candidate of the party’s own at the next presidential election, opposition MP Nalin Bandara said.
Speaking to reporters on Monday September 25, Bandara said the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) that he represents is in dialogue with a number of opposition parties to form a “broad alliance” by the end of the year.
“We can’t tell if the SLPP’s candidate will be President Ranil Wickremesinghe or a member of the Rajapaksa family or some business tycoon. Many names are being proposed. But we can see that a section of the party will back President Wickremesinghe, and another section will support the SLPP’s own candidate,” said Bandara.
“We can clearly see the split in the SLPP,” he added.
MPs representing the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and elsewhere who have become independent will join forces with the SJB, said Bandara. However, SLFP chairman and former president Maithripala Sirisena has been giving mixed signals on which way the SLFP will go in a future election. Sirisena has made his own invitation to all opposition parties to form a common alliance and has even suggested that he is open to running for president.
Bandara said there may be several such alliances in the offing, but the people are with the SJB.
“People with brains, people who are clean and not racist will rally behind the SJB,” he claimed.
“On the ground, the support for the government is declining every day,” he added.
According to the MP, the government is gearing towards an election next year, judging by decisions it has made seemingly targeting an election. However, President Wickremesinghe cannot continue the present government surrounded as he is by a “rogues”, said Bandara.
“We think the government will collapse soon,” he said.
The SJB and other opposition groups have been crying foul at the Wickremesinghe administration’s alleged attempts to avoid elections. Critics of the SJB, meanwhile, claim that no single opposition party is prepared for a national election at present.
This is not the first time this year that the SJB vowed to form a grand alliance. In April, Bandara even invited Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) to join the proposed SJB-led alliance.
Meanwhile, a section of the SLPP that remain staunch backers of the family of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, now appear to be throwing their weight behind former sports minister Namal Rajapaksa.
SLPP MP Tissa Kuttiarachchi said at an event on Sunday that Namal Rajapaksa was the leader under 50 years of age that the Aragalaya protestors have been demanding.
Others in the SLPP government, however, are speculated to be behind President Wickremesinghe, at least for the time being. (Colombo/Sep25/2023)