COLOMBO: Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has asked incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena to make him Prime Minister when the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) wins the parliamentary elections to be held on August 17.
“Respect the peoples’ verdict as I did on January 9,” Rajapaksa told Sirisena in a letter sent on Friday.
Rajapaksa had stepped down from the Presidency, a day after losing to Sirisena in the January 8 Presidential election.
Rajapaksa, who is the main candidate of the UPFA and its main constituent, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) from Kurunegala district, was responding to Sirisena’s missive on Thursday in which the latter had categorically stated that he would not appoint him as PM even if the UPFA gets a majority in the house of 225 members.
Sirisena had said that he would appoint some other senior SLFP leader as PM, and identified seven leaders in the Rajapaksa camp as the prospective candidates.
Sirisena had justified his decision saying that Rajapaksa had spoiled the image of the SLFP by his communal and authoritarian politics. The SLFP had become a party of just one community, the Sinhalese-Buddhists, and had alienated itself from the minorities. It had been rendered unfit to win elections.
The Seven Opt Out
However, John Seneviratne, one of the seven leaders Sirisena had identified for the post of Premier, said on Friday, that none of the seven will accept the post. The General Secretary of the UPFA, Susil Premajayantha, said that all the seven had signed the nomination of Rajapaksa as the party’s candidate for Premiership.
To Sirisena’s Advantage
However, a well informed source told Express that the decision of the seven leaders to opt out could work to Sirisena’s advantage.
“With them out of the way, Sirisena will be free to appoint one of his own men in the SLFP as PM, totally avoiding the Rajapaksa loyalists. S.B.Dissanayake, former General Secretary of the SLFP, who is now with Sirisena, could be the choice for Premiership. Dissanayake’s appointment will also help keep in check another center of power which is worrying Sirisena, namely, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga. There is no love lost between Dissanayake and Kumaratunga,” the source said.