RW to be a broad alliance-backed candidate at poll: UNP



ECONOMYNEXT— President Ranil Wickremesinghe will contest Sri Lanka’s upcoming presidential election as an independent candidate backed by a broad alliance, according to Labour Minister Manusha Nanayakkara.

The minister said at an event that Wickremesinghe’s candidacy will be a neutral one not representing any one party.

“President Wickremesinghe will contest as an independent national candidate on a common platform where people representing all parties, ethnicities and religions as well as people with diverse views can come together, He will once again become president of this country,” said Nanayakkara.

Former parliamentarian P Harrison, a spokesman for Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), made the bold claim that he will get 10 million votes at the presidential poll due to be held between September 17 and October 17.

Harrison also took a shot at the leftist NPP/JVP, which according to some polls, is strongly ahead of any other contender including the president and the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB).

“The  JVP thinks that their three plus percent has climbed up to 80 percent. For that to happen, all of us will have to vote for them. That will not be the case. If you take the whole country, at the most, their three percent will go up to no more than five or 10 percent,” said Harrison.

He was referring to the slightly over three percent of the vote the NPP polled at the last two national elections in 2019 and 2020.

Harrison also suggested that Wickremesinghe can expect the support of some of his apparent rivals. “He will be the common candidate. A section of the SJB will also join him,” he said.

Predictions of SJB members joining the UNP en masse have so far come to nought, according to MP Chandima Weerakkody who recently joined the main opposition party.

“They said 35 will go, 40 will go, that they will go on March 8. They gave different dates. The UNP held two conventions. Because no one joined the first one, they said it would happen in the second. No one came,” said Weerakkody.

“No one who was elected by the people and does not yield to money will not take such a decision. The UNP is a party that only got 150,000 to 200,000 votes. Can a party like that poll 7.5 million votes?” he asked.