Rajapaksas to launch political comeback bid in Sri Lanka

Colombo, May 26 (PTI) Sri Lanka’s powerful Rajapaksa clan, which suffered political battering due to the country’s worst economic crisis in 2022, will launch its political comeback bid on Sunday by targeting the impending elections.

Former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, ex-prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa were ousted from power during anti-government protests following the crippling financial and political crisis in 2022.

The ruling Sri Lanka People’s Front of the Rajapaksas, commonly known by its Sinhalese name Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), will hold a public rally later in the day in the north central rural town of Thalawa, party member and former minister SM Chandrasena told reporters.

He said that Mahinda Rajapaksa would inaugurate the rally, aiming to prepare the party grassroots for the major elections –- the presidential or the parliamentary.

“We will start our campaign to gear the party for whatever the election that comes first,” Chandrasena said.

According to the Election Act, the presidential election should occur before the parliamentary elections. The next parliamentary election is not due before August 2025.

On Wednesday, President Ranil Wickremesinghe reiterated his intention to hold the presidential election this year ahead of the parliamentary election.

The SLPP, however, wants the parliamentary election ahead of the scheduled 2025 date.

Earlier this month, the Elections Commission said the presidential election would be conducted at a date between September 17 and October 16.

The SLPP is yet to announce its candidate, while the two major opposition camps have already announced their presidential candidates.

The SLPP went into hiding after the massive street protests began in early 2022, which caused the resignation of the then-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The SLPP was forced to elect arch-rival Wickremesinghe to serve the balance term of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

One of the SLPP Members of Parliament was killed by an angry mob. The properties of nearly 100 other party seniors were set on fire in the outpouring of public outrage over their inability to handle the economic crisis.

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