By Chathuri Dissanayake
President Maithripala Sirisena has told the Cabinet of Ministers he has no plans of contesting in the upcoming Presidential Elections and will also not support Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa
President Sirisena, who discussed the current political climate with the Ministers of the United National Front (UNF) after the Cabinet meeting concluded, had reportedly told those present that he had no plans of running for office again, informed sources told Daily FT.
Sirisena had also told the Ministers that he would not be supporting former President and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa’s group either, a source who was present at the meeting told Daily FT.
“He told us that he had no intention of contesting or supporting the Mahinda group,” the source said.
The President, who was in a “reconciliatory mood,” also told the UNF group to prepare for the upcoming Presidential Elections by fielding a “new face,” another Cabinet source told Daily FT.
Telling those present from the UNF that they were already “late to the contest,” the President had recommended fielding a new face for the election.
“He told us that we should field a new face and compile our election mandate – and if he is in agreement with the mandate he will support us; if not he will remain neutral, but will not support the Mahinda group,” a Cabinet source told Daily FT.
The President had also expressed concern over the current state of affairs in the country, noting that the en masse resignation of Muslim Ministers from the Government may have detrimental effects on Sri Lankan identity and the community.
However, President Sirisena’s party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, is currently engaged in a series of discussions to form a broader alliance to contest in the upcoming polls.
Further, during a media interaction with foreign journalists during his visit to India last week, Sirisena claimed that he was yet to make up his mind regarding his decision to contest, noting that he would take a final decision after other parties had announced their candidates.
Responding to a question asked by a journalist, he said: “There is plenty of time for the elections, none of the political parties from the governing side or the Opposition have up to now, not [sic] selected a presidential candidate. Therefore I am in no hurry, I am waiting to see what they are doing for me to make my decision.”