Sri Lanka: Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa quits presidential race

Party member says he is now aiming for prime minister's post

By Qadijah Irshad

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Published: Tue 19 Jul 2022, 8:53 AM

Last updated: Tue 19 Jul 2022, 9:54 AM

Sri Lankan opposition leader Sajith Premadasa withdrew from the presidential election on Tuesday, a day before Parliamentary elections, shocking the island nation.

The son of a former president tweeted: "For the greater good of my country that I love and the people I cherish, I hereby withdraw my candidacy for the position of president."

Premadasa pledged to support his rival Dullas Alahapperuma from the ruling party. “Our alliance and our opposition partners will work hard towards making Dullas Alahapperuma the winner,” he said on Twitter.

A member of Premadasa’s Samagi Jaya Balawegaya (SJB) party told Khaleej Times that Premadasa’s withdrawal from the presidential race in the crisis-ridden nation is to clinch the post of prime minister.

“We are aiming for the prime minister’s post,” said the member of the SJB that holds 54 of the 225 Parliamentary seats. “There is an understanding.”

The presidential race has now narrowed among the current acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is backed by the ruling party that holds a majority 145 seats in parliament; Dullas Alahapperuma from the ruling party; and Anura Kumara Dissanayake, leader of Sri Lanka’s largest leftist party.

The nation predicts that Wickremesinghe, who protesters want out, is most likely to be voted in.

On Monday, the SJB party’s national organiser said Premadasa will not accept the post of prime minister if Wickremesinghe becomes the president.


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