Sobhitha Thera denies planning to contest 2016 presidential polls


By Ravi Ladduwahetty

Chief Incumbent of the Kotte Naga Viharaya Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera yesterday denied that he had plans to contest the next Presidential elections as the Opposition’s common candidate.

"I have no aspirations to contest the Presidential polls as a common candidate, but the movement that I head will choose a candidate in the event President Mahinda Rajapaksa does not abolish the Executive Presidency prior to the 2016 elections, "Ven. Sobhitha told The Island yesterday.

He said that one of the main planks of the Mahinda Chinthanaya manifesto was the abolition of the executive presidency, which had still not been done.

He added that both, Presidents Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa, had ridden to power on a mandate to abolish the executive presidency but having ensconced in power they had reneged on their promise.

While denying that he himself would come forward as the common candidate, the thera said that whoever was picked as the common candidate would have to pledge to abolish the executive presidency, activate the 17th amendment to the Constitution, which specified the implementation of the Independent Election Commission, Police Commission, Judicial Service Commission and the Public Service Commission, reintroduce the Westminster system of governance based on the first-past-the-post system, reduce the term of Parliament five years and restrict the member of Cabinet ministers to 25.

However, asked who was likely to be the common candidate for the 2016 Presidential polls, as President Rajapaksa was not likely to abolish the executive presidency, the Thera said that no decision had been taken as there was time.

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