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No decision yet on running in 2019 - President

President Maithripala Sirisena addressing a gathering of senior media heads and journalists at President’s House yesterday. (Picture by Nissanka de Silva - President’s Media Division)

President Maithripala Sirisena told the media yesterday that he has not yet taken any decision on seeking another term at the Presidential Election slated for 2019.

“I did not expect to become President. All others who have become Presidents before me have been prime ministers or opposition leaders.

I am the only one who went straight to the Presidency from a ministerial post. There are lots of things I have to do before I think about another term,” President Sirisena said, addressing the media at the President’s House.

“But I do not know where my mission will end.

I will do politics till I die. I am very much a political organism, having engaged in politics for 50 years. I might not need a political office to serve the people,” he added. He pointed out that many people were angry with him due to his policies. “I fought against the tobacco industry and the pharmaceutical companies. I came to the Presidency on a platform of opposition to corruption, waste and fraud.”

He said it was abhorrent that one of the biggest frauds ever committed in this country happened recently. He will not hesitate to act against the persons who had given support to the bond issue perpetrators. However, this has created many opponents for him.

“Former Minister Ravi Karunanayake has spoken against me. He says the Bond Commission report contains falsehoods. He tried to speak about it several times – first the Prime Minister prevented then and then the Speaker. It would be political suicide to make a statement like that.”

The President emphasised that he has taken on the challenge of taking the country towards a righteous era. “I will do my utmost, I just do not where it will end. It is not an easy task by any means. I will do everything possible to turn this country around. I am sure the people will bless my policies.”

Improving the economy would be a priority. The cost of living has to be reduced and agricultural and other sectors have to be developed. However, all must acknowledge that the economy is in vastly better shape now than it was in 2015 when there was an economic crisis. The International community had almost imposed sanctions back then, through steps such as the GSP Plus withdrawal and fish exports ban to the EU. His ascension to the presidency helped the country to overcome these crises.