With just 2 days to go for the Sri Lankan parliamentary polls, the battle lines are drawn. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has said that he will not allow Mahinda Rajapaksa to be prime minister even if his coalition wins the election in Monday’s polls.
In a letter to Rajapaksa, Sirisena said he will not appoint Rajapaksa as premier even if the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) coalition won a majority.
“There are eminently suitable seniors in the party from whom I can pick a prime minister,” Sirisena wrote.
Sirisena accused Rajapaksa for not allowing succession in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which is the main constituent party in the UPFA coalition.
“Not only you held two terms, you deprived the party-seniors opportunities by trying to stay on forever,” Sirisena alleged.
Sirisena also explained that he allowed his predecessor, Rajapaksa, to contest the polls only because he feared a split in the party, if he wasn’t given a ticket.
Rajapaksa has alienated the Tamil and Muslim minorities from the SLFP, accused Sirisena.
Sirisena was Rajapaksa’s Health Minister until he came forward as the opposition unity candidate to challenge the then president last year.
Sirisena faced immediate sacking from the party only to be handed the party leadership when he defeated Rajapaksa in the January presidential election.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) is bound to maximize its gains from this latest tryst between Sirisena and Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa was the Sri Lankan President twice since 2005. No other Sri Lankan president has stood for the parliament polls after demitting presidency. Rajapaksa is also credited for ending the country’s three-decade-old civil-war with LTTE.