Sajith Premadasa launches new alliance before April polls

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Colombo:  Former Sri Lankan presidential hopeful Sajith Premadasa has launched the new Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) alliance ahead of the April 25 parliamentary elections, saying it was a long-term effort to build a new political culture beyond the polls, it was reported.

The SJB, a largely United National Party (UNP) creation, was launched with the participation of a number of the ruling party MPs, minority party politicians and civil society supporters at an event here on Monday, the Daily Financial Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The launch saw 12 political parties and civil society groups sign an agreement to formally join the alliance.

Addressing the event, Premadasa, also the UNP Deputy Leader, said that the launch signified a democratic, progressive people’s revolution targeted at the upcoming pollss.

“Unlike political alliances or fronts formed in the past for winning elections, this alliance will have longitude and we plan to take our motherland in a new direction, through a new political culture,” he said.

Premadasa is slated to contest the polls from Colombo district, where former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is also in the fray.

The developments on Monday came on the same day when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved Parliament, paving the way for the April 25 polls to elect 225 members in the House, reports the Daily Financial Times.

The President also fixed May 14 for the new Parliament to meet and announced March 12-19 will be the nomination period.

Sri Lanka’s Parliament was dissolved after four and a half years, which is the legal limit.

During the dissolution period, the country will be run by a caretaker government with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and a cabinet of ministers, while all state ministers and deputy ministers will lose their posts.

An estimated 16 million people are expected to vote in April.