Sri Lanka’s prime minister has expressed his willingness to contest the upcoming presidential election as the ruling United National Party candidate, said party members and reports on Friday.
"I will contest the presidential election. I am the party leader. I have every right to do so. I will submit my nomination for approval by the party’s working committee," the Daily Mirror newspaper quoted Ranil Wickremesinghe as saying.
The news came amid an internecine battle between Wickremesinghe and his deputy Sajith Premadasa.
Wickremesinghe made his intention known at a meeting of senior party members where Premadasa was conspicuous by his absence, party members said.
In recent weeks, Premadasa has been appearing in public rallies where his supporters have touted him as the party’s candidate for the presidential election set for late November or early December. The National Election Commission is expected to call for nominations in the coming weeks.
The main opposition party headed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has already announced that it will field former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa as its candidate.
On Thursday, President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party announced it would also field a candidate but gave no name.
By Ameen Izzadeen in Colombo