“We appreciate that the President will take a neutral stand at the elections and we also welcome the advice he has given his people over the elections and the nomination of Mahinda Rajapakse,” Amaratunga said. The United National Party (UNP) today said that it welcomed the stand taken by President Maithripala Sirisena to remain neutral and not openly support any political party contesting the August 17 parliamentary elections.UNP Senior member John Amaratunga said that his party also welcomed the statement made by Sirisena against former President Mahinda Rajapakse stating that he would be defeated at the elections. Breaking his silence over the issue after he drew criticism from his own party members, Sirisena said that he never agreed to give nominations to Rajapakse and feels he will lose the elections.“I totally disagree with the party’s decision to grant nominations to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, he will be defeated at the election, as how he was defeated at the last presidential election,” he said. Rajapakse was given nominations by Sirisena to contest under the main United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) of which Sirisena is the chairman and Rajapakse a senior advisor.The former leader will contest the parliamentary polls from Kurunegala. (Colombo Gazette) Sirisena, in a special statement to the media yesterday, had asserted that he was against Rajapakse being given nominations from his party to contest the August 17 elections.