Former president and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday they would field a single presidential candidate from an alliance formed by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and others.
He said this after assuming duties in the New Year at his office at the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) head office in Battaramulla.
When asked about their presidential candidate Mr. Rajapaksa said they would not field two candidates.
“We will reveal who the candidate is at the right time. Now we are trying to form a broad alliance. We will all get together and field one candidate instead of two. As SLFP Chairman, President Maithripala Sirisena is strengthening the SLFP. This will not be an obstacle to form an alliance,” he said.
Responding to reports that former president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga may join the United National Party (UNP) together with 18 SLFPers, Mr. Rajapaksa said he did not think the SLFP MPs would do so.
“If they joined the UNP, it would only intensify whatever the internal issues the UNP already has and we are not going to field Ms. Kumaratunga as our presidential candidate,” he said and added that they would fulfil the role of the opposition in parliament with or without the office allocated for the opposition leader and other facilities.
Mr. Rajapaksa said 2019 would be an election year and it was vital to strengthen their political camp to face them.
Commenting on the 50-day government they formed at the end of last year, he said there were mixed reactions from the people over the move.
“Some say it was a good move and others have opposing views. Had we waited till an election, national assets would have been sold and a constitution with federalist features would have been adopted. Since the SLFP was also with the government, they enjoyed the majority in parliament. The SLFP’s decision to break away from the government is a victory we achieved," (Lahiru Pothmulla)