Colombo: Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa has ended his five-decade-long association with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and joined the newly-formed Sri Lanka People's Party (SLPP).

On October 26, Rajapaksa was controversially appointed as the Prime Minister of the island nation by President Maithripala Sirisena after sacking Ranil Wickremesinghe. However, he has now left Sirisena's party.

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Rajapaksa's move indicates that he would contest the snap polls to be held on January 5, 2019. Last week, Sirisena had dissolved the Parliament further deepening the political crisis in the country.

The 72-year-old Rajapaksa received the membership of the SLPP on Sunday. The party was launched by his supporters last year. In February this year, the party won two-third of the total 340 seats in the local council polls.

“The election will go ahead and I am confident we will sweep the election,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“The international community must realise that this is democracy. They must understand our position. We are seeking a mandate from the people,” he added.

Rajapaksa, who ruled Sri Lanka for a decade from 2005, was unexpectedly defeated by his deputy, Sirisena, in the presidential election held in January 2015 with the support from Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP).

However, the power-sharing arrangement between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe became increasingly tenuous on several policy matters, especially on economy and security.

Rajapaksa's father Don Alwin Rajapaksa was a founding member of the SLFP, which was formed in 1951.

(With inputs from PTI)