Welgama hits out against Rajapaksa Brothers Inc. | Sunday Observer

Welgama hits out against Rajapaksa Brothers Inc.

16 September, 2018

Joint Opposition frontliner Kumara Welgama hit out against moves to field a Rajapaksa family member as the SLPP/JO presidential hopeful last week, saying the party comprised several veteran politicians and should not be the exclusive preserve of a single family.

If former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who has completed two presidential terms could not contest the next election, the candidature should be open to other eligible members of the JO, Welgama said in an interview.

“It’s not proper to concentrate only on the family when there are seniors in the JO. We are continuing the mistakes we made the last time we were in power. Nepotism was a cause of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s defeat at the last presidential election. Why repeat the same mistake again?” Welgama asserted. The party could not be reduced to just one family, the JO stalwart claimed. “Attention should be focused on the party seniors,” Welgama charged as rifts widen over the speculation about a 2019 presidential aspirant from the pro-Rajapaksa faction.

He added that there were seasoned senior politicians in the SLPP or ‘Pohottuwa’ who were eminently suitable to contest. “This party has a far better leadership beyond the brothers. Our veteran politicians who are well-experienced and other senior party members are also suitable for the candidature,” the Kalutara District MP said.

The senior JO Member also rejected the possibility that former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa could contest the forthcoming presidnetial polls, since both were dual citizens of Sri Lanka and the US. Under the terms of the 19th Amendment, dual citizens are ineligible to run for public office in Sri Lanka.

If Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot contest, he should pave the way for other party seniors, the Kalutara District MP added.

MR to contest by hook or by crook despite 19A?

Former Prez tells The Hindu he could contest in spite of legal barriers and battle it out in court:

As heated speculation and debate continues about the SLPP/JO candidate at the 2019 Presidential Poll, President Mahinda Rajapaksa hinted that he may contest the election anyway in spite of the 19th Amendment prohibition on persons having served two terms in presidential office.

“There is a view that despite the 19th Amendment, I can fight elections and then fight it out in court,” the former President told The Hindu newspaper in an interview while he was in New Delhi last week. But he had yet to decide whether to take that risk, the former President added in the interview.

The comments confirmed speculation that the Rajapaksa camp may resort to such a tactic, daring the courts to rule against an elected President post-election, in the event of a victory. The daring legal manouerver will prevent the former President from having to choose a candidate from among his brothers, and senior members of the JO who are vying for the candidacy. However, legal officials at the Election Commission told Sunday Observer earlier that the 19th Amendment was unambiguous on the disqualification of presidents who had already served two terms in office.

In his interview with The Hindu, the former President also indicated that his hopes for his eldest son Namal Rajapaksa had been dashed by the 19A, which raised the minimum age of a presidential aspirant from 30 to 35 years. “So he can’t be considered in 2019,” the former President said, confirming that his hopes were set on an eventual Namal Rajapaksa presidency. “My brother is certainly a contender,” the former President said, adding that eventually the party and the coalition would have to decide who the people wanted.

While Rajapaksa did not specify which brother he was referring to in

The Hindu interview, JO frontliner Vasudeva Nanayakkara later told a weekend Sinhalese newspaper that the former President had been referring to former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa.