• Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Sri Lanka’s Wickremesinghe likely to contest poll under new symbol

Wickremesinghe has helmed the United National Party (UNP) since 1994. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Sri Lankan president Ranil Wickremesinghe is poised to join the presidential election later this year under a different symbol, said his top aide.

Wickremesinghe, aged 75, is expected to represent multiple parties as a national candidate, senior presidential advisor and UNP senior leader Ashu Marasinghe told reporters on Tuesday.

The veteran politician has helmed the United National Party (UNP) since 1994 and has held the position of prime minister on five occasions, leading six governments.

In May 2022, Wickremesinghe replaced Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister following anti-government protests over the unprecedented economic crisis in the island nation. Two months later, he replaced Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the president to serve the balance term until the end of 2024.

“People such as minister Prasanna Ranatunga have said many, including himself, have an issue supporting Wickremesinghe if he contests the Presidential election under the elephant symbol. Likewise, we in the UNP too have an issue with him contesting under the pohotuwa. Therefore, Wickremesinghe is expected to contest under a new symbol,” Marasinghe was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror newspaper.

He said more than 80 per cent of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) will support Wickremesinghe in the next election scheduled to take place later this year.

“We welcome the proposal made by SJB MP Talatha Athukorala that both the SJB and the UNP should unite. We expect others in the SJB to support Wickremesinghe even if SJB leader Sajith Premadasa decides against such a move,” he said.

He said that it is not possible to hold both the Presidential election and the general election on the same day according to the Constitution.

Further, he said that cash-strapped Sri Lanka’s economy has begun to recover with foreign reserves growing up to USD 5 billion, while the tourism sector has experienced an unexpected gain during this year.

(PTI)

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