President can seek a second term – WP CM


by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devapriya yesterday argued that President Maithripala Sirisena was the most suitable SLFP presidential candidate at the Presidential Election in 2020.

The CM told the media in Colombo that President Sirisena was no longer the common candidate of the common opposition; he was the leader of the SLFP and, therefore, there was no barrier for him to contest the next presidential election.

Shortly after his inauguration in 2015, President Sirisena declared that he would not seek a second term. He also undertook to abolish the executive presidency and change the current electoral system.

CM Devapriya noted that President Sirisena had fulfilled most of his election pledges including the curtailment of his executive powers and, therefore, people would vote for him.

Devapriya stressed that President Sirisena had said he would not contest another election when he was the common candidate, but now he was the leader of SLFP and, therefore, he could be the presidential candidate of the SLFP in 2020.

Asked whether President Sirisena would join forces with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the future, the Chief Minister said that President Sirisena had always been against the UNP though he had been compelled to form a joint administration with that party; there was no reason why he could not work with Rajapaksa, the Chief Minister said.

"One need not be surprised if President Sirisena and former President Rajapaksa get together to work for the betterment of the SLFP in the future," Devapriya added.

Stressing that there should be a proper mechanism to tax the rich, CM Devapriya said only 150,000 out of about 450,000 rich businessmen in the country were paying taxes.

Commenting on the proposed Industrial Zone scheduled to be set up in Hambantota, the Chief Minister said it had become a common practice for every government to change their policies upon being elected.

Earlier the UNP had blamed Rajapaksa government for being pro- Chinese, but now the Joint Opposition which consisted of many key politicians faulted the government for inviting Chinese investment.

If southerners did not want a massive development project then the government should think of shifting it to Kalutara, Colombo and Gampaha, he said.

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