Opposition leader seeks unity to end Sri Lanka bloodshed

Ishara S. Kodikara | AFP | Getty Images Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, center, speaks to supporters at the prime minister's official residence in Colombo on December 16, 2018, after he was reappointed as prime minister by Sri Lanka's president, the same man who fired him from the job nearly two months ago.

Sri Lanka’s opposition leader launched his presidential election bid from this historic city Saturday urging unity among the deeply divided majority community ahead of a peace deal with Tamil rebels. Sri Lanka’s opposition leader launched his presidential election bid from this historic city Saturday urging unity among the deeply divided majority community ahead of a peace deal with Tamil rebels. Former premier Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the island’s influential Buddhist clergy to help unite the majority Sinhalese community, who are also mainly followers of Buddhism, before opening negotiations with the guerrillas.

“We cannot have a peaceful solution to the conflict unless the two main parties in the country unite and have a common position on the national question,” Wickremesinghe, a member of the majority Sinhalese – Buddhist community, told two top Buddhist monks here.

He urged the two main sects of Buddhist monks — Malwatte and Asgiriya — here in Kandy, 112 kilometres (72 miles) east of the capital Colombo, to bring about unity with his United National Party and the rival Freedom Alliance.

Wickremesinghe said he would accomodate opposition members in a future government if he wa