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Sri Lanka president on the offensive as election looms, hits out at SJB, NPP

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ECONOMYNEXT — As Sri Lanka’s presidential election inches closer, President Ranil Wickremesinghe is increasingly on the offensive, hitting out both the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya and the leftist National People’s Power (NPP).

Wickremesinghe told a gathering in Kandy on Sunday March 07 that the SJB has not inherited the policies of his United National Party (UNP), the party it broke off of from, with its economic policy now overseen by former members of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

The SJB, once poised to take control of the UNP headquarters at ‘Sirikotha’ in 2020 under the UNP banner, claimed Wickremesinghe, is now being influenced by the chairman of the SLPP and other factions.


Sri Lanka’s SJB welcomes SLPP dissidents, heaps praise on G L Peiris

The President’s Media Division (PMD) quoted Wickremesinghe as claiming that a division within political parties caused the SLPP Chairman G L Peiris and a minority faction to sit in the opposition, subsequently gaining control of the SJB. Despite SJB’s previous claim of being the UNP in 2020, the president said, the current leadership of SJB comprises individuals who had exited the SLPP.

The true essence of the UNP is no longer present within the SJB, he said, adding his longstanding commitment is to the UNP. He did, however, underscore the need for political unity, stressing the landscape of politics has evolved, requiring cooperation with both the SLPP and SLFP for the betterment of the country, the PMD said in its statement.

Speaking at another event last week, Wickremesinghe joked that three-wheeler drives who now have access to fuel following his administration’s economic stabilisation programme can freely post stickers saying “victory to the NPP”.

The NPP currently leads at least one opinion poll on voting intent, with the SJB significantly behind and the UNP and SLPP trailing far behind. The NPP’s campaign has focused heavily on the immediate impact of the more painful reforms of Wickremesinghe’s International Monetary Fund (IMF)-backed reform programme. (Colombo/Mar08/2024)

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