Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is in India has said his brother is certainly a contender for presidential poll in 2019 but the SLPP and the coalition will have to decide who the people want.
In an interview with the Hindu, Mr. Rajapaksa said his son Namal Rajapaksa can’t be a presidential candidate since the government has now raised the minimum age to 35 years instead of 30.
“So Namal can’t be considered in 2019. My brother is certainly a contender, but the party and the coalition will have to decide who the people want,” he said upon asking whether the next presidential candidate of SLPP will be a member of the Rajapaksa family or someone outside of it.
When asked who would lead the SLPP into elections in 2019, Mr.Rajapaksa said he would lead the party.
“There is a view that despite the Amendment I can fight elections and then fight it out in court. But I still have to decide whether to take that risk. Another option is to announce a candidate acceptable to all,” he said.
When asked about his opinion on whether the LTTE cadres who were convicted for Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination should be released, he said he has no view on the matter.
“It is up to the Indian government, it is an internal matter for India. If this was in Sri Lanka we would have taken a different line. But how can I say anything when the issue is in India?,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said India and his political camp had a lot of misunderstandings just before and after the elections in 2015.
“Now of course, I think it is about time to move on. However, no one should meddle with somebody else’s elections. It is an internal matter of a country whom the people decide to bring to power. I think now they all have understood what went wrong at that time and what they did. So we need to forget about the past. This is the time to move forward and look forward,” he said.
Commenting on the allegations that he had accepted campaign funds from Chinese companies, Mr. Rajapaksa said China did not fund him.
“This is what people talk about because this government has nothing else to accuse us of. When they came to power, they were looking for my $18 billion, but they are still looking for it (laughs)… despite the help of the US and other countries. They haven’t even found a dollar,” he said.
He also said Sri Lanka could have settled the loans his government obtained but the Sirisena government has messed things up.
“For the Colombo Port City, we didn’t have to pay anything, it was a contract sharing arrangement, where they got a share of the land they developed. At the time of the Hambantota port deal, our debt from China was less than our debt from the US and other countries and debt-to-GDP ratio was under control. So if the problem has grown now, and the government has not managed it, then how can you blame us?,” he said.