South Asia

Sri Lankan Opposition closes ranks

Maithripala Sirisena pledged to scrap the presidency, call a parliamentary election and install an all-party national government led by a Prime Minister for at least two years. File photo.  

Common Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, who will challenge Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the upcoming polls, signed a pact with opposition parties on Monday, vowing to scrap executive presidency if elected.

Mr. Sirisena pledged to abolish executive presidency, hold a parliamentary election and install an all-party national government led by a Prime Minister. He also promised to annul the 18th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution to relieve the police force, judiciary and bureaucracy of political interference.

The Memorandum of Understanding, signed by the leaders at the Viharamahadevi public park in Colombo, speaks of restoring democracy in the country which, it said, was witnessing the total breakdown of the rule of law, erosion of democratic institutions, an unprecedented widening of social disparities and severe strains on religious harmony.

A former Health Minister in Mr. Rajapaksa’s Cabinet, Mr. Sirisena defected from the ruling party on November 21 to be named the common Opposition candidate. His principal supporters include former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe.

Senior Buddhist monk Sobitha Thero, who leads the National Movement for Social Justice, has also joined the common platform, as have former army commander and Democratic Party leader Sarath Fonseka, Democratic People’s Front leader Mano Ganesan and parliamentarian and former cricketer Arjuna Ranathunga.

Political parties representing the Tamils and Muslims, whose votes will be crucial in the coming elections, are yet to spell out their position.

Mr. Rajapaksa is eyeing a record third term in office, enabled by the constitutional amendment .

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 12:43:48 AM |

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