South Asia

Deputy Minister in Rajapaksa govt. defects to Opposition

On Wednesday, days ahead of presidential polls in Sri Lanka, a deputy Minister in President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government defected to the Opposition.

Faizer Mustapha, the President’s counsel and Deputy Minister of Investment, pledged support to common candidate Maithripala Sirisena weeks after he said he would be doing his community a disservice if he were to support the incumbent when the hardline Sinhala Buddhist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) also supported Mr. Rajapaksa.

Mr. Mustapha has been a strong supporter of Colombo’s mega “integrated resorts,” as the government here refers to casinos. “When I was in the government I supported integrated resorts, but now that I want Mr. Sirisena to be the President, I will abide by his policies [against gambling],” AFP quoted him as saying.

Sri Lanka’s January 8 election appears to have become a close contest with key Tamil and Muslim parties pledging support to Mr. Sirisena. Over 15 million Sri Lankan voters are eligible to cast their ballots.

Mr. Mustapha's move brings the total number of parliamentarians who defected from the Rajapaksa government to 24.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 6:35:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/sri-lankas-presidential-candidate-maithripala-sirisenaright-listens-to-faizer-mustapha-during-a-pressconference-in-colombo-on-wednesday/article6742870.ece

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