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Sri Lankan Tamils should field a common presidential candidate, says senior politician

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Colombo, Dec 27 (PTI) It is important for the Tamil community in Sri Lanka to field a common candidate in the country's next presidential election, according to a veteran Tamil politician.

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According to Sri Lanka's Constitution, the next presidential election should be announced by September 2024 and must be held before November-end. Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed as the President on July 20, 2022, to fill the remaining term of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was ousted from power in a popular uprising.

Replying to a question, Northern province's former chief minister C V Wigneswaran on Tuesday told reporters in Jaffna that the interests of the Tamils would be best served if a common candidate contests the presidential polls rather than individual Tamil parties fielding their candidates.

The 84-year-old Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kootan (TMTK) leader said he has "the best qualifications to be the common Tamil candidate" and is ready to contest the presidential election if invited to do so by all the Tamil parties.

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A former Supreme Court judge, Wigneswaran served as the chief minister of the northern province between 2013 and 2018.

Wigneswaran said the chances of Wickremesinghe winning the required 50 per cent vote in the next election is remote as there will be at least four candidates representing the Sinhala majority community parties.

“There will be four candidates from the southern parties, therefore, it would be difficult for any party to win 50 per cent of the votes,” he said.

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Wigneswaran said a common Tamil candidate rather than a split Tamil vote will create a better electoral impression.

Wickremesinghe is hoping to get re-elected as president after his stop-gap term ends November next year.

According to political observers, Wickremesinghe has managed to impress the voters with his careful steering of Sri Lanka's bankrupt economy. However, tough economic reforms at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) might hinder his popularity at the polls.

Wickremesinghe needs to draw support from the ruling SLPP of the Rajapaksa family to be able to get elected.

Both SJB, the main opposition party, and the Marxist JVP’s new alliance, National People’s Power (NPP), would vie for the presidency. This is expected to split the vote of the 74 per cent Sinhala majority. PTI CORR SCY AKJ SCY SCY

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