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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Sri Lanka opposition candidate offers unity government

Update : 27 Nov 2014, 04:49 AM

Sri Lanka’s main opposition presidential candidate expressed hope Wednesday of forming a unity government and ushering in constitutional reforms if he defeats the incumbent Mahinda Rajapakse in January’s election.

Maithripala Sirisena, who was sacked as health minister after defecting from Rajapakse’s party last week, said he would welcome former cabinet colleagues into a coalition if he triumphs in the January 8 contest.

“I am inviting my former colleagues and all parties represented in the current parliament to join a national government,” Sirisena said after his first visit to the opposition United National Party (UNP) headquarters in the capital.

Sirisena’s shock announcement last week has sparked an exodus from the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Another SLFP legislator jumped ship to the UNP on Wednesday, bringing the total to 10.

Sirisena, who was also the SLFP’s general secretary, vowed to scrap many of the powers that Rajapakse has transferred to the presidency since coming to power in 2005.

He says he will return to the former British colony’s status as a parliamentary democracy that existed until 1978.

Sirisena said he wanted to bring about a peaceful constitutional revolution, citing India’s independence icon Mahatma Gandhi and South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela as his inspirations.

“I am a poor farmer’s son, I am not rich... but I am an admirer of both Gandhi and Mandela and will follow their example in leading the country to establish a new political culture,” he said.

Private election monitors said more violence was reported overnight, with ruling party loyalists attacking homes of those who had defected to the opposition.

Shots had been fired into the homes of rivals in the central region, but there were no casualties.

Rajapakse, the longest serving leader in South Asia, called the election two years ahead of schedule in an apparent bid to seek a fresh mandate before his party’s popularity tumbles further after dropping over 21% in September local elections. 

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