Rajapaksa Not SLFP’s PM Candidate: Sirisena
COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), on Tuesday categorically rejected former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s demand that he be made the Prime Ministerial candidate of the party in the run up to the August 17 parliamentary elections.
Sirisena said through a press release that he had not found any of the applicants for an SLFP ticket suitable to be declared the Prime Ministerial candidate. Specifically mentioning Rajapaksa, the SLFP chairman said that Rajapaksa has not been declared or accepted as the Prime Ministerial candidate. Explaining the mode of selection of the Prime Minister, Sirisena said that following the elections, the choice will be made after consulting the MPs elected on the SLFP ticket and the ticket of the larger alliance, the UPFA.
Sirisena’s statement, however, does not bar Rajapaksa from applying for a ticket to contest from the SLFP or from one of the parties of the UPFA. He could be considered for the Prime Ministership after the elections if he has the support of the SLFP/UPFA parliamentary party.
By not barring Rajapaksa from contesting, Sirisena has not divided the SLFP or the UPFA and this is hailed by the pro-Rajapaksa and pro-unity group, as former Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said in Kandy on Tuesday.
It now remains to be seen as to what Rajapaksa will say in the press conference at Medamulana on Wednesday. If he opts out of the contest, there will be commotion in the SLFP and UPFA and the pro-Rajapaksa elements will quit and form a group to prop up Rajapaksa.