Creates confusion within MR Camp
A strong sense of uncertainty looms large over the Sri Lanka Freedom Party with conflicting statements coming from different parties over former President Mahinda Rajapaksa getting nominations from the SLFP to contest the Parliamentary election.
During the discussion held between President Maithripala Sirisena, SLFP General Secretary Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha, the President has agreed to give nomination to the former President to contest the election as a normal candidate. He has not given any undertaking on naming him as the Prime Ministerial candidate.
Following the meeting with the President, de Silva, Premajayantha and Yapa left for Kandy to meet the former President.
The meeting was held at former Parliamentarian Lohan Ratwatte’s residence in Kandy.
During the meeting, the three SLFP seniors informed Rajapaksa of the agreement reached at the meeting with President Sirisena.
The former President responded to this decision favourably and sought more time to arrive at a final decision after having discussions with the UPFA Leaders.
Informed party sources told the Daily News, Rajapaksa had expressed willingness to contest from Rathnapura or Kurunagala districts. However, some SLFP leaders of the two districts have not responded to this proposal favourably. As a result, there is a possibility that the former President may contest from the Gampaha district if he gets nominations from the SLFP.
The former President may not contest from Hambanthota, his traditional stronghold, as his son, former Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa will also contest from the same district.
After the meeting between the former President and the SLFP seniors, former Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, a supporter of Rajapaksa, addressed media in Kandy stating that the former President would contest and lead the UPFA group at the election. Rambukwella said that was the outcome of the meeting between President Sirisena and the SLFP seniors.
Soon after Rambukwella’s statement, the President’s Media Unit issued a press communiqué stating President Sirisena did not agree to name the former President as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the party. The statement said no candidate was named as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the party and if the UPFA won the election, the Prime Minister would be appointed after the election based on the preference of the MPs.
Meanwhile, the SLFP MPs who supported President Sirisena’s at the Presidential election also met him last evening. At the meeting, they raised serious concerns over the agreement to give nomination to the former President. Some of them, including Minister Arjuna Ranatunga, had threatened to join the UNP if the former President given nominations, party sources told the Daily News. Meanwhile, the statement issued by the President on the Prime Ministerial candidacy has disturbed the group supporting Rajapaksa. Some of them have dubbed the President’s agreement as a move to ‘trap’ the former President.
They had pointed out that Rajapaksa would not be appointed as the Prime Minister after the election and the President might form a national government with the UNP and the SLFP faction supporting him.
In this context, there are speculations that the President may opt to contest separately, probably from the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna. Staunch Rajapaksa supporters have already pointed out the former President has no option now but to resort to plan B – which means contesting separately. The former President is to announce his decision today, at 10.30 am, from Medamulana.
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