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Sri Lanka justice minister pondering presidential bid, to decide in coming weeks

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ECONOMYNEXT — Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe will decide whether or not to contest Sri Lanka’s upcoming presidential election, over the next few weeks, Rajapakshe said.

Speaking to reporters Monday April 15 evening, the minister said several groups have requested that he consider running for president.

“Many groups have made such requests from me. A majority of the central committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), members of the clergy [Buddhist and from other faiths] have made the same request,” he said.

“I plan to think it over and take a decision over the next few weeks,” he added.

Rajapakshe also claimed that the Sri Lankan public has lost confidence in all mainstream political parties.

“The people have no faith whatsoever in any of the political parties at present. The next election will be a very different and decisive one.

“Voters will no longer look at the party and vote. They will decide based on the person contesting,” he said.

If he decides to contest, Rajapakshe will face the challenge of a formidable campaign already underway by the leftist National People’s Power (NPP), with the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) not far behind.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose cabinet Rajapaskhe is a key member of, has yet to officially announce his candidacy, but Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) insists that he definitely intends to run.

Sri Lanka’s next presidential election should be held between September 17 and October 17, according to the constitution.

Meanwhile, the SLFP, whose central committee members Rajapakshe claims have called on him to contest the election, is mired in its own crisis, with party chairman and former president Maithripala Sirisena unceremoniously replaced with Ports & Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva.

Several senior SLFP members are prominent members of President Wickremesinghe’s cabinet and it is unclear at present who the SLFP will back or whether it will field its own candidate. (Colombo/Apr16/2024)

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