“I don’t think he will contest. I know him well”, says Wickremesinghe, in an interview with New York Times
By Siva Sivapragasam
There has been much speculation in recent weeks that former President Rajapakse will stage a political comeback by contesting the coming general elections. Some constituent parties of the previous Government and a group of SLFP ers want Rajapakse to be the Prime Ministerial candidate in the forthcoming general elections, to be held probably in three months time.
But in an interview with the New York Times, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe feels that Rajapakse will not stage a comeback stating that he knows Rajapakse well. Rajapakse too has not made any positive comments so far about his return to politics.
Among other matters touched by the Prime Minister in the interview were Sri Lanka’s foreign relations, returning land in the North taken over by the army from civilians and the release of political prisoners
In his interview, Mr. Wickremesinghe stated that he had managed to help reset relations with the United States, India and China and pledged to return relations with the West to a far happier state. “When I was Prime Minister last, we had good relations with the United States, India and China. The Rajapaksa regime destroyed that. They fought with the West. They fell out with India. And they thought that China would be their saviour,” he told the New York Times journalist.
He has also mentioned in the interview that a final list of political prisoners is being prepared and it should be ready by March. There have been some unhappy feelings expressed by Tamil politicians about delays in releasing prisoners and the return of land taken over from the civilian population in the North by the army. The government has now agreed to release a considerable extent of land in stages.
Mr. C. V. Wigneswaran, Chief Minister of the Northern Province feels that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is reluctant on the release of prisoners now because he did not want to anger the Sinhalese majority before parliamentary elections scheduled in three months time. Mr. Wigneswaran feels that dozens who are widely known to be held for political reasons could be released immediately. (input from New York Times)