Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday gave up his bid to become president in November’s elections, conceding his party’s candidacy to his deputy, Sajith Premadasa.
Premadasa is the son of former president Ranasinghe Premadasa who was assassinated by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in 1993.
His main rival in the November 16 vote will likely be Gotabaya Rajapakse, the controversial younger brother of Sri Lanka’s former strongman president Mahinda Rajapakse.
Gotabaya Rajapakse, 70, is considered a strong contender even though he faces corruption cases in Sri Lanka and two civil actions in the United States.
The US cases are over the murder of a newspaper editor and torture of Tamil rebel suspects when he was a top defence ministry official during his brother’s rule.
It is not clear if incumbent Maithripala Sirisena will seek a second term, reported AFP.
His popularity has fallen since Islamic militant attacks in April killed at least 258 people, and also a political crisis in late 2018.
Premadasa’s nomination, strongly supported by back-bench members of parliament, followed months of internal division in the center-right United National Party, as the party also considered parliament speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, reported Reuters.