June13, 2018 (LBO) – With the Presidential election in Sri Lanka close to 18 months away, potential candidates are positioning themselves ahead of the poll.
Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the candidate recently attracting much attention, is trying to stake his claim though experiencing many complications. Foremost among these issues is his American citizenship which he will have to renounce in time for the poll. Persons with information on the process indicate that it can often take much more time than anticipated.
President Maithripala Sirisena is seen lacking a political base, and therefore requires an alliance with either the UNP or the SLPP in order to get a respectable share of the vote. With regards to an alliance with the SLPP, key Gotabaya Rajapaksa loyalist Dr. Nalaka Godahewa had this to say yesterday on twitter:
“No one with any political sense can imagine SLPP, the party which got the highest votes at the last local government election, supporting President Sirisena at a future presidential election. So he shouldn’t have high hopes and get ready to leave at the end of term.”
The legally troubled former SEC Chairman has his own problems, having been indicted and charged with fraud under the public property act. However, if Godahewa’s claims are accurate, the candidate that seems well situated at present is Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Although political analysts are quick to point out that he polls poorly among certain demographics, particularly those that make up the core constituency of the SLPP, Wickremesinghe is likely to enjoy a ‘block vote’ from the country’s minority communities.
Although he promised to only serve for one term, there is currently no indication that President Sirisena intends to retire at the end of his term. However, based on his current political positioning, it is likely the best role he could play is that of a spoiler.