Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena has discouraged his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa from contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections, saying that his party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, was set to lose the fray if he represented it.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, who lost the January 8 presidential polls, was formally accepted as a candidate on Monday for the August 17 polls, ending weeks of speculation.
Maithripala Sirisena said that he tried to dissuade the former leader from the contesting elections, saying that minority Tamils and Muslims would never vote for him. He also told Rajapksa that an anti-corruption wave was sweeping the whole world and Sri Lanka’s educated citizens and middle class expected him to bring in good governance, which lacked in his regime.
However, he was pressured by party stalwarts to allow Rajapaksa to stand.
The former president plans to represent the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), headed by President Sirisena, for a seat in the 225-member assembly.
At least 15 million people are eligible to vote in the election held under a system of representation.