SL President vows to complete term

Colombo: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa vowed to finish the remaining two years in his term despite months-long street protests calling for his ouster, but won’t stand for re-election as he focuses on fixing a financial mess that tipped Sri Lanka into its worst-ever economic crisis.

I can’t go as a failed president, Rajapaksa said Monday in a wide-ranging interview at his official residence in Colombo, his first with a foreign media organisation since the crisis unfolded.

I have been given a mandate for five years. I will not contest again. The defiance comes in the face of slogans of Gota Go Home, with protesters blaming Rajapaksa and his family for decisions that led to severe shortages of everything from fuel to medicine, stoking inflation to 40% and forcing a historic debt default.

This is unlikely to placate protesters, said Patrick Curran, an economist.

With elections more than two years away, Rajapaksa’s decision to see his term through will contribute to heightened political uncertainty and could hamper reform efforts, Gotabaya was also sceptical about the success of a planned amendment to the constitution, which seeks to contain the executive presidency.