COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday wrote to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa telling him in no uncertain terms that he will not be made Prime Minister even if the United People’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) wins the August 17 parliamentary elections.
Sirisena had said so earlier on July 14, but still the UPFA and its main constituent, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), have been portraying Rajapaksa as the next PM. Recently, a move was made to convince Sirisena of the need to make Rajapaksa PM at least for a short period of three months. But the President would not budge.
Sirisena, who is Chairman of the UPFA and the SLFP, said in the letter that he could use his powers as the President of Sri Lanka to help the UPFA get additional support to form a government, in case the party comes first but does not bag the required 113 of the 225 seats. But he would not help if the party puts up Rajapaksa as its Prime Ministerial candidate.
The President said that the post of PM should go to someone in the SLFP who is senior and capable, and who has also not been PM before. He then listed the leaders who he could consider and they are: Nimal Siripala de Silva; John Senaviratne; Chamal Rajapaksa, Athauda Senaviratne, A H M Fouzie, Susil Premajayatha, and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.
Sirisena urged Rajapaksa to be flexible and magnanimous and give his blessings to his choice in the interest of the party and country.
The President, who wrote as Chairman of the SLFP, appealed to Rajapaksa not to make communal and racist remarks which will make the SLFP a mono-ethnic party of the Sinhalese and alienate the minorities. Sirisena said that if he had led the party in the coming elections, the broad spectrum of people who had supported him in the Presidential election would have supported the SLFP this time.
Sirisena recalled that he promised Rajapaksa a respectable retirement, but the latter had spurned the offer though the majority of his family members had welcomed it. Sirisena also said that he and Rajapaksa had been good friends until Basil Rajapaksa, one of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brothers, ruined the friendship.