Sri Lanka’s President Rajapaksa to seek second term as economic crisis deepens
Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced Monday he would stand for a second term, reversing a promise to only stay for five years, media reports said.
The 72-year-old nationalist leader told top media executives he needed more time to fix Sri Lanka’s worsening economic crisis, reports said.
During his triumphant 2019 election campaign, Rajapaksa said he would be a one-term president.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
He reaffirmed in March last year that one five-year term was sufficient to implement his ambitious manifesto, triggering a succession struggle within the powerful Rajapaksa family that dominates the government.
Elections are not due until 2024, but Rajapaksa now says he needs five more years to implement his “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” manifesto after the economy contracted by a record 3.6 percent in his first year. The government has banned many imports because of a foreign currency crunch.
Rajapaksa “today declared that he would contest for a second term,” the pro-government The Morning website quoted him as telling media owners.
Other media also reported on the comments, which set off new speculation about the intentions of the ruling family.
The elevation of the president’s youngest brother Basil, 70, as finance minister earlier this month was widely seen as a move to groom him for the presidency.
Basil was thought to have edged out his nephew, Namal, the minister of sports and eldest son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, to be the next family leader.
“Another U-turn and maybe this squashes Basil’s chances for the next presidency,” said Jamila Husain, a deputy editor of the Daily Mirror newspaper, on Twitter.
Since his election, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has tightened the family grip on power.
With the entry of Basil, the cabinet now has five members of the ruling family.
Eldest brother Chamal, 78, is minister of irrigation. Several Rajapaksa family members hold junior ministerial positions and other key posts.
Basil was described as “Mr Ten Percent” in a 2007 US embassy cable published by the WikiLeaks organization, because of commissions he allegedly took from government contracts.
He has denied any wrongdoing and inquiries failed to find any evidence to back charges he siphoned off millions of dollars from state coffers.
Basil is a dual US-Sri Lankan citizen, but Gotabaya removed constitutional provisions which blocked him from standing in a parliamentary election last year.
Sri Lanka brings in ‘deradicalization’ detention, bans burqa to deal with extremism
Sri Lanka bans face covering after attacks
Floods, landslides kill at least 17 in Sri Lanka
An estimated 150 death-row inmates start hunger strike in Sri LankaAbout 150 death-row inmates in Sri Lanka began a hunger strike to demand their sentences be commuted, prison officials said, after the nation’s ... World News
Sri Lanka arrests religious leader over deadly Easter attacksSri Lanka’s police Saturday arrested a top religious leader and member of parliament in connection with the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks that killed 279 ... World News
Six AstraZeneca vaccine recipients get blood clots, three dead in Sri LankaSri Lanka has found six cases of blood clots among recipients of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, three of whom have died, Health Minister Pavithra ... Coronavirus
Sri Lanka’s plan to bury Muslim coronavirus victims on islet sparks outcryA plan by Sri Lanka to bury Muslim coronavirus victims on a remote islet was slammed on Wednesday by locals and the minority community.Colombo banned ... Coronavirus