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Dismayed at UNP split, Samaraweera decides not to contest parliamentary elections

Former Sri Lankan minister announced his decision of not contesting in Sri Lanka’s upcoming parliamentary elections, after expressing “deep regret at the division” of the United National Party (UNP).

In a statement released this week, Samaraweera said he had informed UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader Sajith Premadasa of his decision and claimed he “succeeded in achieving progress for Matara as well as the country at large, yet a lot more still remains to be done”. 

Samaraweera has been in active politics since 1989 where he was elected as a parliamentarian with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), before later joining the UNP in 2010. During his career, he rose to the post of Foreign Secretary in Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Government, as the Sri Lankan military force started an offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamils. In 2019 he joined the newly formed SJB.

In his statement, he announced that he would be stepping out from the parliamentary race and requested the people of Matara to not vote for him, although his name appears in the electoral list as a candidate from the SJB.

He further expressed that, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s rule has been shown that in just six months, “ethnic, racial and religious divisions among the people of the country are being widened while the state is being militarized”.With all these grave matters that the state is facing, he said the opposition “does not seem to have a clear understanding of what its role and duty should be”.

Samaraweera had earlier proposed dramatic reforms in response to the economic crisis in Sri Lanka as he warned, the “tempest has only just begun”. He also stated that Sri Lanka was in a “sordid state” and had "lived beyond its means and did not undertake the reforms".

Despite his statement stepping back from this election, Samaraweera added, however, that this was not the end of his political career.

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