Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa Sunday renounced his membership in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and joined the newly formed SLPP ahead of a court challenge to his controversial appointment as prime minister.
Rajapaksa, 72, followed his legislator son Namal in joining the Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Podujana (SLPP) which emerged the largest single party at the February local council elections.
He did not say if he will run for prime minister at the January 5 election as a SLPP candidate or in a coalition within President Maithripala Sirisena’s SLFP.
However, Rajapaksa told reporters at his home Sunday that he was consulting lawyers to face several legal challenges to his appointment as well as the snap elections Sirisena called nearly two years ahead of schedule.
He said the sacking of Wickremesinghe and the parliament as well as calling the election had been done in line with the constitution, but people could reject them at the ballot.
“Let the people decide. If we are wrong, they will vote against us,” he said.
Asked about the 19th amendment to the constitution that took away the president’s power to dismiss the assembly before it completed four and a half years out of its five year term, Rajapaksa said: “What is the 19th amendment? Under the constitution we have the power.”
“We are seeking a mandate from the people. if anyone challenges the right of the people to vote, then they are going against the people.”
He also slammed the international community which has largely refused the recognize his appointment as prime minister.
Only China has recognized his government.
“The International community must realise that this is democracy. Are you saying that this is undemocratic? They must understand our position,” Rajapaksa said adding that they will reach out to the international community to explain their position.