SLFP requests Sirisena to contest for second term in Lanka prez polls
Colombo, June 6 (PTI): The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on Thursday requested President Maithripala Sirisena to contest for the second term in the presidential polls scheduled to be held later this year.
The development came days after Sirisena, during his visit to New Delhi to attend the swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, told the Indian media that he has not decided on seeking another term in the upcoming presidential election, likely to take place on December 7.
“I am not in a hurry to decide whether to stand,” 57-year-old Sirisena had told a news conference in New Delhi.
In a communique handed over to Sirisena in the afternoon, his party men requested him to contest the presidential election as the SLFP nominee, the president media division said here.
A statement attributed to Sirisena’s coalition partner UNP members saying that the SLFP leader has told the United National Party that he would not contest for the second term has prompted the SLFP workers to take the step, it said.
The SLFP members have urged Sirisena to become the main anti-UNP candidate at the election.
Sirisena, whose five-year term is scheduled to end on January 8, 2020, has faced criticism over his leadership after a series of eight coordinated suicide bombings killed over 250 people in the island nation on April 21.
Sirisena was elected for a five year-term on January 8, 2015 when he challenged the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa. The former strongman had called snap elections two years ahead of the end of his second term.
Sirisena, backed by the then main Opposition UNP, became the common Opposition candidate against his former boss Rajapaksa.
Although Sirisena has not so far declared his intention for a re-run, his souring of relationships with the UNP of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has indicated that the UNP would be fielding its own candidate.
Sirisena in October last year sacked Wickremesinghe, who elevated him to the presidency, and replaced him with Rajapaksa. The move led to a constitutional impasse, which lasted over 50 days.
After the intervention by the Supreme Court, Wickremesinghe was restored as the prime minister. However, the relationship between Wickremesinghe and Sirisena is never the same.