Former President could be forced to lead separate political front, say aides
President’s office won’t confirm rejection of nomination for MR
The crisis within the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) deepened yesterday, with reports that President Maithripala Sirisena had refused to give his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa a nomination to contest the August election at a meeting held at the Presidential Secretariat between leaders of constituent parties of the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
The President’s office refused to confirm the reports attributing the statements to President Sirisena at the crucial meeting.
President Sirisena chaired the meeting of 14 political parties united under the UPFA banner at the Secretariat offices last evening.
Highly placed sources claimed that the top level decision to bar Rajapaksa’s re-entry into active politics on the SLFP/UPFA ticket had been communicated to the rest of the party leaders at the meeting.
The SLFP has promised to conclude its nominations process by 4.00 p.m. today.
Under the circumstances, the Rajapaksa faction is likely to contest the elections as a separate front, Daily FT learns. The former President was scheduled to meet with his loyalists last night, for final discussions on how the feuding faction within the UPFA would go forward under his patronage.
However, at a press briefing held yesterday, SLFP top brass told reporters that the party was still pursuing the path of negotiations to unite the two factions, with Chamal Rajapaksa being considered as a prime ministerial candidate for the SLFP, as a compromise measure. However, Daily FT learns that this proposal has not been well received by the Rajapaksa faction. (DB)