the announcement of an early presidential election, to be held in January 2015, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa received a shock as his health minister Maithripala Sirisena resigned from his post to become the presidential candidate of the opposition parties. The move surprised many and it is believed that the new opposition candidate will give President Rajapaksa a good run for his money in the upcoming elections.
At least five other ministers and party members of President Rajapaksa’s Sri Lankan Freedom Party also joined the defection led by Sirisena, who served as the ruling party’s general secretary as well. Sirisena was nominated by a united group of opposition parties to be the main challenger against Rajapaksa. The opposition parties had been claiming for months that they would field a joint candidate. Sirisena pledged to appoint Ranil Wickremesinghe, the leader of the opposition United National Party, as prime minister if he was elected president.