Former two-time President and Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa has all but confirmed the end of his Presidential aspirations, after acknowledging to international media that he cannot contest this year’s Presidential Election.
Following the enactment of the 19th Amendment to Constitution, Parliament brought in a two-term Presidential limit.
However several corners have argued that Mahinda Rajapaksa, who lost the 2015 election, can contest for the Presidency, citing the new legislation is applicable only for future contestants.
A vocal critic of former President’s brothers, Parliamentarian Kumara Welgama, on several occasions had claimed that Mahinda Rajapaksa can contest future Presidential elections.
However, speaking during an event in Bangalore, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa today conceded that he cannot contest the 2019 Presidential Election and said he will push for a suitable candidate to secure victory.
Meanwhile, commenting on Indo-Sri Lanka relations, Opposition Leader Rajapaksa said two serious breakdowns in bilateral relations between the countries occurred – once in the 1980s and again in 2014.
Claiming he is a strong believer in fostering people-to-people relations; MP Rajapaksa said travel between India and Sri Lanka must be made much easier.
He also expressed the importance of strengthening cooperation in several areas including security, social well being, political stability, economy and international transport.
Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa said maritime security in the Indian Ocean has become an important issue in regard to respective national security of the two countries and therefore noted that during future bilateral discussions, the Indian Ocean maritime security strategy should play a key role.
Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa added strong political leadership is a key factor for a stable relationship between India and Sri Lanka.