The Democratic National Front Presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa launched his campaign today Oct 10 with a mammoth rally at Galle face in Colombo, projecting his populist agenda and promising to appoint Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka to deal with National Security.
“The Field Marshall will deal with the new forms of terrorism and the drug menace,” Premadasa said. He also hinted that he may bring back “extreme action” against convicted drug lords who continue to operate their business from behind prison walls.
He has previously supported the death penalty for these convicts but avoided saying it today.
The move to give Fonseka a role in a future administration puts to rest murmurings that the General and the Candidate are not getting along and also pits the former Army Commander directly against the SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa whose strong suit is National Security.
Premadasa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe framed the contest for the Presidency between the Social Democratic forces of their side arrayed against a feudal, nepotistic formation represented by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.
He said that the SLPP represented tribal militarism and emphasized that the country doesn’t want to be “run by slave-owners.”
He promised to build a “manufacturing economy that will engage with the international market place,” by promoting digital technology and empowering youth. He said he would become the “first and faithful servant of the country’s youth.”
He pledged that the “silent majority” would be given a voice by him and said he would visit every electorate in the country and attend to their needs.
He emphasized that his government will be a team effort and that they would be guided not by the wishes of one family “ensconced in a mansion” but by the “struggling people on the streets, by the women and the youth.”
Clearly Premadasa took aim at the women vote, saying that they were the majority and promising them a greater say in governance, increased job opportunities and personal safety.
Premadasa pointed out that he had to a wage a struggle within his party to be nominated by the United National Party while his main opponent was simply anointed by family members.
He thanked Wickremesinghe for “making the sacrifice,” by stepping aside in the contest to win the candidacy by which he was able to become the candidate.