Sri Lanka’s ex-president denies naming ‘Gota’ as successor

ECONOMYNEXT – Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa denied he had suggested in India that his brother Gotabhaya could be the next presidential candidate as a succession battle escalated within their ranks.

Addressing reporters after a meeting in Kebithigollewa, the former leader dismissed the claims that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was his nominee as an “absolute lie.”

“I never said anything like that. It is in someone’s imagination.”

In an interview with India’s national paper, The Hindu, Rajapaksa said “my brother is certainly a contender.” He did not say which brother it was. There are three in contention – Chamal, Basil and Gotabhaya.

However, pro-Gotabhaya media outlets had headlines such as “It is Gota not Namal says MR.”

The former president’s remarks in India have irked a few stalwarts of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) who are supporting Rajapaksa’s proxy party, the SLPP.

Former transport minister Kumar Welgama has openly objected to a Rajapaksa sibling being considered as a presidential candidate over other seniors in the party.

Welgama also showed open hostility to Gotabhaya saying he has no political experience as he had not served in a village council as an elected member.  (COLOMBO, Sept 16, 2018)

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