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Sri Lanka PM Wickremesinghe to Lead New Broad Alliance for Presidential Polls

Sri Lanka PM Wickremesinghe to Lead New Broad Alliance for Presidential Polls

Colombo: Sri Lanka is set to have a new broad political alliance headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on August 5 which will contest the presidential election later this year, a media report has said, amid the power struggle between the premier and President Maithripala Sirisena.

Sri Lanka has been wracked by political divisions since an unprecedented constitutional crisis last year, when President Sirisena sacked United National Party (UNP) leader and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and appointed former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Wickremesinghe was reinstated in December after the intervention of the Supreme Court, but the government remains deeply divided.

The UNP will contest the presidential election later this year in a major alliance based on national security, democracy and the economy, party General Secretary Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam told the ColomboPage on Sunday.

An agreement will be signed with the partner parties on August 5, he said.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne speaking to media on Saturday said the new alliance has been named as the Democratic National Front, the daily reported.

"The main work of our alliance is finished. The constitution of the alliance and the symbol have been finalised. The manifesto is being prepared now. It will be presented to party leaders and presented to the public at the auspicious time of 10 am on August 5 at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium," he said.

"We will bring this programme in a new form in the history of Sri Lanka. We will present a massive programme to build the future of the country's people. We hope to win all future elections through this. We will present a presidential candidate. He will be the next President. We will join hands with the people to win any election based on that," Senaratne told the daily.

According Senaratne, the new alliance plans to invite like-minded civil society organisations also to join. However, no decision would be taken on a presidential candidate at the August 5 meeting.

Sirisena was elected for a 5 year-term on January 8, 2015 when he challenged the incumbent Rajapaksa. The former strongman had called snap elections two years ahead of the end of his second term.

Sirisena backed by the then main Opposition UNP became the common Opposition candidate against his former boss Rajapaksa.