President Maithripala Sirisena is firm in his stance that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa will not be given nomination to contest the upcoming General Election from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne said.

Replying to a question posed at the Cabinet press briefing, Minister Senaratne said President Sirisena had yesterday held a meeting with the six-member SLFP committee appointed to hold discussions with the former president.

President Sirisena had conveyed to the committee that the discussions must continue from the point where they ended on the last occasion. “The stance taken by the President regarding Mahinda Rajapaksa was that he will not be made the SLFP’s prime ministerial candidate, that he will not be appointed to parliament from the National List and he would not be given nomination from the SLFP. This position still stands,” Minister Senaratne told the media, noting that the committee had made these three requests to the President and he had turned them all down.

When queried what the point of appointing a committee was if this was the starting point of the discussions, the minister reiterated that it was appointed to hold discussions from the point where they ended last, stating “Maithripala Sirisena does not take backward strides. He will only move forward with good governance”.

He claimed the SLFP’s goal was to create ‘Nelson Mandelas’ and not ‘Robert Mugabes’ and added the party cannot win by propping up a defeated candidate whose policies were rejected. Rajapaksa was welcome to work with the SLFP for its victory, but not as a party candidate, it was stressed.