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Gotabaya pledges to restore SL’s sovereignty and return to non-aligned foreign policy

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Attempts to divide the people and the country must be prevented and Sri Lanka must unite as one nation. All the people must enjoy equal rights and privileges across the country, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa said.

“The only way to get the country out of the present mess is to develop our national economy by making full use of our own resources, employing modern technology and interacting with the rest of the world, but to Sri Lanka’s advantage”, he told the Special Conference of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) at the Exhibition and Convention Hall in Colombo on September 29.

At the event, it was unanimously resolved to support Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the forthcoming presidential election.

Continuing, the SLPP presidential aspirant said that in the last three and a half years, he developed the ‘Vyath Maga’ program, together with local and expatriate scientists, academics and professionals, and he hoped to implement it, if elected President.

“But to achieve this, the right environment has to be created. Under the present government, we have lost our sovereignty, and are being dictated to by foreign interests. I will ensure that the sovereignty is restored and we return to the non-aligned foreign policy, having good relations with all countries, but on equal terms”, Rajapaksa noted.

He said the people are living in fear today and this situation must end so that everyone feels safe in all parts of the country. There must be law and order.

“State sector organizations are failures mainly due to political interference. I will ensure that this is stopped. The education system needs to be reformed so that every student is able to earn a good income by strengthening tertiary education to meet our development needs with emphasis on science, technology and skills training and ICT. A place must also be found for those who drop out from the education system early”, Rajapaksa added.

SLPP leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa gave a detailed account of the birth of the LSSP in 1935 from the Suriyamal Movement and the important role it had played in the triumph of the anti-imperialist struggle, together with the SLFP, led by leaders of the caliber of Dr. N. M. Perera, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva, Philip Gunawardane and Leslie Gunawardena. The success of the struggle for social justice, specially working class rights, owes much to the LSSP.

“We are now faced with a similar situation due to the actions of the present UNP-led government. Our independence and sovereignty are under threat. Huge foreign loans are taken at high interest. But, what have they to show for it? We took loans, but used it to win the war and for infrastructure development. The money is now being used to enrich themselves and corruption prevails at all levels, as never before in our history. Our policy of self-sufficiency in food and essentials has been abandoned and we are dependent on foreign imports, whose prices are beyond our control”, he said.

Subsidies have been removed and as a result farmers cannot produce and falls prey to middlemen, as does the consumer. The debt problem has affected everyone, including entrepreneurs. The salary anomalies created are leading to endless strikes. The people suffer. All the UNP is interested is to take revenge on me and those who supported me and even the war heroes. Nothing has been proven, Rajapaksa noted.

“I am happy the LSSP has decided to support Gotabaya, and with his victory we can guide the country back on the correct path”, he further said.

General Secretary and Leader of the LSSP, Prof. Tissa Vitarana, said the breakdown of governance, misrule, the huge debt burden (foreign, national and local), with the high cost of living and low incomes flowed from the Neoliberal Policies (NLP) pursued by the UNP-led government, as conditions laid down by the IMF for its loans.

The UNP policy of promoting imports, especially luxuries for the rich with the very low direct taxes on the super-rich 1.0% of the population, supported by the JHU and other parties in the UNF, has led to high indirect taxes, the burden being passed on to the people (99%) as a high cost of living. The flight of FDI and the drop in economic growth to 2.7%, from levels of 6 to 8% during the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, has reduced real incomes, he asserted.

Deaths due to malnutrition, with the national level rising to 37% is the outcome. Among the IMF conditions for loans is the dismantling of the welfare state and the removal of the ban on foreign ownership of land and assets, even utilities like water. These will be owned by foreign companies, without any 50 acre limit. Profits made can be kept or sent abroad without government approval. What will be left of Sri Lanka?, he queried.

Prof. Vitarana said the only way to save Sri Lanka is by defeating the UNF candidate and ensuring Gotabaya’s victory, without being fooled once again, this time by a “Gota gonibilla” campaign.

The welcome speech, with some reference to the historical achievements of the LSSP since its inception in 1935, was made by Y. G. Padmasiri, National Organiser and former Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Rev. Baddegama Samitha, former MP and Southern PC member, gave an account of the negative political and economic consequences to the country and people after the UNP-led Unity government was elected in 2015.

Anil de Soysa, Deputy Secretary of the LSSP, outlined the objective of the Special Conference, which was to get endorsement of the decision of the LSSP Central Committee to support the candidature of SLPP presidential nominee Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

With the arrival of Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the 30-point program of the LSSP, which had been included in the ongoing discussions on the future Sri Lanka Podujana Alliance Manifesto, condensed into seven major points, was read out by Anil de Soysa.

The meeting ended with the Resolution being passed unanimously and the entire LSSP Central Committee singing the “international”.

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