India rejects ‘baseless’ reports on efforts to influence Sri Lanka presidential polls

Published on Jul 20, 2022 12:32 PM IST

This is for the first time in 44 years that Sri Lanka's Parliament will directly elect a president.

Policemen stand guard at a barricade outside the Parliament building, as voting begins to elect the new President, amid the country's economic crisis.(Reuters)
Policemen stand guard at a barricade outside the Parliament building, as voting begins to elect the new President, amid the country's economic crisis.(Reuters)

India on Wednesday rejected “baseless and purely speculative” media efforts about the country’s efforts at the political level to influence the presidential elections in Sri Lanka. The Indian High Commission in Colombo said that the claims made in the reports were “clearly a figment of someone’s imagination”.

In a series of tweets, the high commission reiterated India supports the realization of aspirations of the people of Sri Lanka by “democratic means and values”, stressing that India doesn’t interfere in the internal affairs and democratic processes of other countries.

“We have seen baseless and purely speculative media reports about efforts at political level from India to influence political leaders in Sri Lanka regarding elections in the Sri Lankan Parliament to the post of the President of Sri Lanka,” the Indian High Commission tweeted.

“We categorically deny these media reports as completely false. They are clearly a figment of someone’s imagination.”

The statement came amid voting in the Sri Lankan Parliament to elect the successor of Gotabaya Rajapaksa who resigned from the top post after fleeing to Singapore following a popular uprising against his government over a severe economic crisis. The presidential election has turned into a three-cornered fight after the leader of the opposition Sajith Premadasa withdrew his candidature on Tuesday.

“For the greater good of my country that I love and the people I cherish I hereby withdraw my candidacy for the position of President. @sjbsrilanka and our alliance and our opposition partners will work hard towards making @DullasOfficial victorious,” the Sri Lankan leader announced on Twitter.

With the backing of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe is seen as the frontrunner for the high office. He faces a serious challenge from dissident ruling party leader Dullas Alahapperuma Alahapperuma, who is backed by the main opposition. Leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake is the third candidate in the race for the president’s post.

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