Sri Lankan ex-president to contest as PM candidate

Colombo, June 28 (IANS) Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa would contest as a prime ministerial candidate in the August 17 parliamentary elections, a source said on Sunday.

Kumara Welgama, a former minister in Rajapaksa’s government, said the former president would look to contest under the betel leaf symbol of the opposition United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), Xinhua news agency reported.

Welgama said all attempts would be made to unite the political parties in the UPFA, including the main opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), and put forward Rajapaksa as the UPFA prime minister candidate.

He hoped President Maithripala Sirisena, as UPFA chairman, would take a stand with regard to the nominations to be given to UPFA candidates, keeping in mind the best interest of the country.

There have been reports indicating that the president would not agree to nominate Rajapaksa as the prime minister candidate of the UPFA.

However, in the August 17 elections, all the political parties in the national unity government have decided to contest separately.

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