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I am the Prime Ministerial Candidate – MR

11 August 2019 12:27 am - 7     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa in an interview with Tamil language Virakesari newspaper on Saturday said that he will be the prime ministerial candidate at the forthcoming general elections.

“… I am the prime ministerial candidate…,” he told the Virakesari, the Hindu newspaper reported.

To Virakesari’s question on the minorities’ discomfort with Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s candidature, the Leader of Opposition said: “I don’t think there is truth in that. In reality, further to the [19th] Constitutional Amendment, the prime minister has more powers. I am the prime ministerial candidate [general elections are due next year], so we have to work together.”

Commenting on the prospects for power devolution to Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils, said that there are many views on what can be given and one of the aspects to be considered is what is happening in J and K.

“There are two strands of opinion now. Some want a new constitution. Some want a federal arrangement. And some say that a political solution based on the 13th Amendment would suffice. But a solution should not be one that divides the country. Look at what has just happened in Kashmir. We need to take steps keeping all these in mind. We have to understand these factors while we pursue a political solution.”

His reaction is among the first from Sri Lankan political leaders after New Delhi ended Jammu & Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

Earlier, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called it India’s “internal matter” in a tweet, in which he said Ladakh would become “the first Indian state with a Buddhist-majority” — a claim that was subsequently challenged on social media, for its factual accuracy.

Later, the Mahanayakes or prelates of the Buddha Sasana, hailed the separation of the Buddhist-majority Ladakh region from J and K. The high priests pointed out that 70% of Ladakh’s people are Buddhist and said that Sri Lankan Buddhists will now be able to visit that Ladakh to worship at the Buddha viharas there more easily than before.

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s interview, appearing on the eve of the scheduled announcement of the presidential candidate to be fielded by the political front backing him, gives a glimpse into the leader’s thinking, in the run-up to the presidential polls to be held before the end of the year.

Noting that he had five candidates, Mr. Rajapaksa said in the interview: “Tomorrow I will name the best of them, the one who will strengthen national security.”

While his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a powerful war-time defence Secretary, is widely expected to be named presidential candidate on Sunday, Mahinda Rajapaksa will take over the leadership of the SLPP officially, after being its de facto leader for nearly three years since it was launched as a platform backing him.
Amid much speculation and questions, especially over Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s renunciation of his U.S. citizenship — Sri Lankan laws prohibit dual citizens from contesting — minority Tamil and Muslim parties are closely following developments.

Gotabaya is accused of committing war crimes and was also linked to hard-line Sinhala Buddhist groups known for inciting violence targeting the Muslims. He has denied the allegations.

On his views of LTTE chief Prabakaran, in the context of the Easter terror attacks in April, Mr. Rajapaksa said: “He had an objective, he had direction and discipline. The path Prabakaran took was wrong, but there was discipline and restraint in his actions. He would strike when he wanted to and choose not to at other times. But the Easter attacks were not like that. They [terrorists] could attack at any time, and they are even willing to die for that.”

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  • Lord Wolfstein Sunday, 11 August 2019 10:14 AM

    The divine powers may give the citizens of Sri Lanka enough brain not to vote for killers, torturers and looters in the elections.

    Ishan Sunday, 11 August 2019 12:32 PM

    Is the UNP any different?? Heads may change but the acts are consistent may be worse.

    Alok Sunday, 11 August 2019 04:44 PM

    Very true

    perera Sunday, 11 August 2019 05:03 PM

    so, instead vote for crooks, swindlers, tricksters, cheaters and plunderers in the name of yahapalanaya ? ? is it ? ?

    Alok Sunday, 11 August 2019 04:37 PM

    Gota has no parliament experience no politicians we have to look for a politician with vast experience to be our next president we don't want family regime as well

    C de Silva Sunday, 11 August 2019 04:44 PM

    Well commented Ishan.m

    Saman Amarasinghe Sunday, 11 August 2019 09:48 PM

    Mahinda on his own is more capable than the entire UNP cabinet. That's the ground reality. Not what colombans want others to believe.


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