Colombo: In a major announcement, Sri Lanka’s main opposition leader Sajith Premadasa on Tuesday withdrew his candidature for President of the island nation and said he is supporting rival candidate Dullas Alahapperuma for the top post.
Premadasa took to Twitter to say that his party the Samagi Jana Balawegaya and its alliance and opposition partners will support Alahapperuma, an MP of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), who is in the fray for the upcoming presidential elections.
Premadasa said that he is heading with this decision as he seeks the “greater good” for Lankans.
“For the greater good of my country that I love and the people I cherish I hereby withdraw my candidacy for the position of President. Samagi Jana Balawegaya and our alliance and our opposition partners will work hard towards making Dullas Alahapperuma victorious,” he wrote on Twitter.
Dullas Alahapperuma is a senior lawmaker from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and a former journalist. He was a Cabinet minister in the previous Rajapaksa government.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who is now the acting president is among those who are in the race for the post of the President to be held on July 20 in which 225 members of the House are eligible to vote and participate in the secret ballot. It is interesting to note that the main opposition leader Premadasa earlier said that he is set to contest the presidential elections.
Terming the scenario of him winning Sri Lanka’s presidential elections an “uphill task”, Premadasa last Friday had said that he will contest the elections as he is convinced that the truth will prevail.
Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had offered his resignation after fleeing the country to Singapore. The president first flew to the Maldives after tens of thousands of protesters stormed his official residence in the capital Colombo.
The Sri Lankan Parliament announced that the nominations for the Presidential elections will be held on Tuesday and the new President of Sri Lanka will be elected on July 20.
The economy in Sri Lanka is bracing for a sharp contraction due to the unavailability of basic inputs for production, an 80 per cent depreciation of the currency since March 2022, coupled with a lack of foreign reserves and the country’s failure to meet its international debt obligations.
Hundreds of Sri Lankans continue to queue up at petrol pumps across the debt-ridden country every day amid fuel shortage, and a large number of people are ditching their cars and motorcycles for bicycles for their daily commute.
The economic crisis which is the worst in Sri Lanka’s history has prompted an acute shortage of essential items like fuel. Long queues at fuel stations in Sri Lanka is the new normal and prices fluctuate subject to availability.
Skyrocketing prices of fuel are also one of the reasons behind the spike in bicycle sales and some stores are running out of stock.