Colombo, Nov 1 (IANS): Sixteen political parties have inked an agreement to back Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa for the November 16 elections.
The agreement which was signed on Thursday at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI), in front of a packed crowd representing all 17 political parties, will form the Sri Lanka People’s Freedom Alliance (SLPFA), reports the Daily Financial Times.
Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, the Communist Party of Sri Lanka, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, Democratic Left Front, Jathika Nidahas Peramuna, Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, Ceylon Workers’ Congress, the Eelam People’s Democratic Party, the National Congress, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya, Deshavimukthi Janatha Pakshaya, United People’s Party, Vijaya Dharanee Mahajana Sabawa, Muthpokkuth Thamil Kacchi, and Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal are also members of the new alliance.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), headed by incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena, also signed the latest agreement.
Speaking at the event, Rajapaksa, also a former Defence Minister, said that based on voting patterns seen at the last Local Government Election, he was confident of winning about 56 per cent of the vote.
“Seventeen political parties today joined together to form the SLPFA. If we consider all the votes all of us have secured during the last Local Government Election, we can attract around 56 per cent of the vote at the Presidential Election, which is a very positive sign,” Rajapaksa said.
He added that the public had already decided who they will vote for, therefore the result of the election has already been decided.
“People have decided who will be the next President by now… If elected, our priorities will be rebuilding the economy, protecting democracy, and restoring the supremacy of the law as well as lifting living standard. We will introduce new programmes to narrow income inequality and reduce poverty,” he added.
Rajapaksa is considered to be a front-runner for the November 16 polls which he will contest with 34 others in the fray.
The other favourite is the ruling United National Party’s (UNP) Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, who is contesting as the National Democratic Front (NDF) contender.
He is the son of late President Ranasinghe Premadasa, who ruled the country with an iron fist before he was assassinated by a Tamil suicide bomber on May 1, 1993.