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No Federal and Top Priority to National Security – Gotabaya’s Policy Statement

SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa sought a mandate from the electorate to hold parliamentary polls immediately after the Nov 16, 2019 presidential poll.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa appealed to the electorate at the launch of his 10-point manifesto at the Nelum Pokuna theatre.

In his brief address to the gathering former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the SLPP leader emphasized the importance of having parliamentary polls soon after the presidential polls – the third since the conclusion of the war.

In terms of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in 2015, parliamentary election cannot be called until the House completed four and half years. The last parliamentary poll was held on August 17, 2015. However, parliament can be dissolved with the passage of a resolution with a two-thirds majority, to pave the way for early polls.

Referring to the 19th Amendment, Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the public sought his entry into politics as the current dispensation deprived former President Rajapaksa of the opportunity to contest again by way of constitutional obstacles.

At the onset, Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared that he didn’t contemplate entering politics let alone seeking the highest Office. Referring to his role as the Secretary Defence during a critical stage of the war, Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that even after the 2015 presidential poll, he wasn’t interested in seeking political office. However, the obstacles created by the 19th Amendment compelled him to accept the challenge.

Acknowledging that he faced a gigantic challenge, the wartime Defence Secretary declared that his first responsibility would be to eradicate the new terrorist threat and also to ensure that extremism from any community did not undermine national security.

The SLPP presidential candidate vowed to restore stability close on the heels of Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) having faulted the State Intelligence Service (SIS), President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, the Attorney General et al to varying degrees regarding the current dispensation’s failure to thwart the Easter Sunday attacks.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared that once his administration guaranteed national security, it wouldn’t be a difficult task to revive the economy.

Rajapaksa gave pride of place to national security in his 10-point vision to re-build a ruined country.

The following are the salient points:

1. A non-aligned foreign policy. Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will not be compromised under any circumstances. State enterprises or land will not be handed over to external parties whereas agreements inimical to national interests will not be entered into. Immediate reexamination of all bilateral and multilateral international agreements and tangible measures to revise agreements in consultation with the countries’ concerned.

2. An administration free of corruption.

3. A fresh process of constitutional reforms to address current constitutional turmoil. Constitutional reforms will not be introduced to appease various interested parties and those pursuing personal agendas.

4. development of human resources

5. Re-building national economy with the focus on local entrepreneurs.

6. Utilization of natural resources.

7. Environmental management

8. A disciplined society with the focus on youth as well as the differently-abled community.

The manifesto dealt with the threat of division of the country on ethnic lines at the time Mahinda Rajapaksa won the 2005 presidential election and the unprecedented economic crisis caused in the wake of treasury bond scams perpetrated in late Feb 2015 and late March 2016. The manifesto emphasized the losses caused by the sharp increase in interest rates due to treasury bond scams to the tune of Rs 145 bn whereas the loss suffered by the EPF was estimated at Rs 20 bn.

Among the key proposals was the immediate commencement of talks with China to revise the agreement on the Hambantota port finalized in 2017. Gotabaya Rajapaksa assured that the strategically located port would be developed to meet requirements with local entrepreneurs being given an opportunity to provide services.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa proposed to suspend acquisition of vehicles, officers to the public sector, including members of parliament.

The presidential hopeful while vowing to punish those responsible for waste, corruption and irregularities, including the treasury bond scams, assured that the FCID (Financial Crimes Investigation Division) would be legitimately established.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa also promised a new Parliamentary Select Committee to propose a new Constitution. However, no reference was made about the much touted promise to abolish the executive presidency.

The complete manifesto issued by Gotabaya Rajapaksa is as follows;

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