Colombo, Nov 14 (IANS): Clean governance, boosting economic growth and ensuring national security were at the forefront of key messages delivered by Sri Lanka’s presidential contenders, as they ended their campaigns ahead of the vote on Saturday.
All presidential election campaigns concluded on Wednesday midnight.
Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna’s (SLPP) Gotabaya Rajapaksa, New Democratic Front’s (NDF) Sajith Premadasa, National People’s Power’s (NPP) Anura Kumara Dissanayake, and National People’s Movement’s (NPM) Mahesh Senanayake gave a synopsis of their key policies and targets to their supporters ahead of the deadline, reports the Daily Financial Times.
Rajapaksa, who addressed his final rally in Homagama on Wednesday, vowed to carry out all the commitments he made in his election manifesto if he was elected President.
The former Defence Minister invited all citizens to join in the challenge of rebuilding the country and he stressed that the priority of his presidency would be to protect national security.
Meanwhile, Premadasa concentrated on social safety nets to be provided if he was elected, support for local businesses and strengthening national security.
“Within 48 hours of winning the election on November 16, I will categorise the tourism industry as an export industry, and make available to it all relief provided to the export sector,” he told supporters in a rally.
Dissanayake, speaking in Maharagama, pledged to uphold democratic rights and create a country free from corruption and extremism, declaring himself as the cleanest candidate.
Addressing a rally in Colombo, Senanayake vowed to remove the legal immunity that prevents the President, Prime Minister, and Cabinet Ministers from being held accountable for any actions that could lead to corruption.
Although a record 35 candidates are in the fray for Saturday’s election, the race is essentially between Rajapaksa and Premadasa, who hail from two powerful families in the island nation.
For the first time in Sri Lanka, no sitting president, prime minister or leader of opposition is contesting the election.
The Tamils are unlikely to vote for Rajapaksa, over the alleged war crimes during the civil war, and the deaths and disappearances. The minorities appear to be favouring Premadasa.