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Sri Lankan president agrees to give party nomination to Rajapaksa

Colombo: The main opposition United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) on Friday said Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has agreed to allow former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to contest the August 17 parliamentary election under the UPFA banner.

The announcement came a day after Sirisena, as the chairman of the party, refused to give the nomination to Rajapaksa, paving the way for a major split in the opposition.

Intense discussions were held between Sirisena and members of the opposition on Friday morning after which UPFA general secretary Susil Premajayantha in a statement released to media said that the president has given his consent, Xinhua news agency reported.

He further said that the party’s nomination list would be completed within the next few days.

The former Sri Lankan leader on Wednesday said that he would make a comeback to politics by contesting the August parliamentary election and look to form a new government in the island nation.

He however did not say under which political party he would look to contest the polls despite his supporters holding crucial meetings with Sirisena in the past month trying to negotiate a favourable settlement for him to contest on a UPFA ticket.

One of the main demands put forward by Rajapaksa when he met the president recently was that he be nominated as the UPFA’s prime ministerial candidate. Sirisena, however, rejected the request.