COLOMBO, June 28 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lankan former President Mahinda Rajapaksa will contest as a prime minister candidate in the August 17 Parliament elections, a former Minister and close aide of Rajapaksa said Sunday.
Kumara Welgama, a former minister in Rajapaksa's government, said that the former president will look to contest under the betel leaf symbol of the opposition United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
"I can clearly state that Mahinda Rajapaksa will contest as the prime minister candidate," he said.
Welgama said that all attempts will be made to unite the political parties in the UPFA, including the main opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), and put forward Rajapaksa as the UPFA prime minister candidate.
He hoped that President Maithripala Sirisena, as UPFA chairman, will take a stand with regards to the nominations to be given to UPFA candidates, keeping in mind the best interest of the country.
However, he asserted that no matter what President Maithripala Sirisena decides with regards to the UPFA candidates, Rajapaksa will contest for the post of prime minister in the election.
There have been reports indicating President Sirisena will not agree to nominate Rajapaksa as the prime minister candidate of the UPFA.
However, in the August 17 Parliament elections, all the political parties in the national unity government have decided to contest separately.