ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka opposition leader Sajith Premadasa has dismissed claims that he will not run for president if incumbent president Ranil Wickremesinghe contests the 2024 presidential election, also insinuating that assertions to the contrary may indicate a threat to his life.
Speaking at an event on Sunday September 03, Premadasa claimed that reports that he will not be running for president if Wickremesinghe contests in 2024 are being circulated by government representatives who, at the 2019 presidential poll, had struck deals with Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa to work towards Premadasa’s defeat.
“All I have to say is this. I will definitely contest the presidential election. There are no two words about it.
“However, to contest the election, I will have to be alive,” said Premadasa.
“I wonder if their saying ‘Sajith won’t run’ is an innuendo about Sajith Premadasa’s life,” he added.
The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader said in order for him to not run for president, he must necessarily cease to exist.
“Here I am saying I’m going to contest, and then you have those idiots saying ‘definitely won’t contest’,” he said.
Premadasa claimed he is the only political leader to never have made a deal with the Rajapaksas.
“We only have a social contract with the 22 million people of this country,” he said.
Premadasa’s declaration that he will definitely run for president comes amid reports of President Wickremesinghe gaining ground in opinion polls, though still decidedly behind Premadasa and rival opposition figure Anura Kumara Dissanayake.
A Sri Lanka Opinion Tracker Survey (SLOTS) polling by the Institute for Health Policy (IHP) for July 2023 showed a recent up trend in support for President Wickremesinghe. The July trends also suggest that recent gains in his support have been at the expense of SJB leader Sajith Premadasa, the IHP said.