Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, following his controversial accession to premiership, hailed the opportunity to share the same political platform with President Maithripala Sirisena, who appointed him to the position after four years of rivalries which began in 2014.
“Our separation was temporary,” Rajapaksa claimed amidst cheers of his supporters at the “Ratama Rakina Jana Mahimaya” rally, organised to show people the strength of the Sirisena-Rajapaksa alliance.
The new Prime Minister, speaking of a strong bond with his appointing authority and one-time election rival Sirisena, said that as the duo has known each other for decades, the bond will not be broken by anyone carrying tales.
Admiring President Maithripala Sirisena’s surprise move to remove the sitting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appoint him, Rajapaksa said the move was a “serious and grave” decision that he would not have been able to take. “This is a very serious grave decision. I told him that if I was him, I wouldn’t have done it, I would have tolerated the situation without taking action.”
Rajapaksa, who was also appointed as Finance Minister subsequent to Sirisena opting to form a new Cabinet, said that the taxes imposed by the United National Party-led Government had led to an increase in the cost of living, putting serious hardships on the common man. “I went to the Finance Ministry and checked if we could remove the taxes, it was possible, and we have done so. They could have done the same.”
Rajapaksa also claimed that Wickremesinghe did not care about the wellbeing of the citizens of the country. “We are together to work towards the prosperity of the country.” He also urged the minorities to work with him to form a government for the future.