GR decries Sri Lankan govt failure to ensure national security, promises relief

COLOMBO (The Island/ANN) - SLPP Presidential Candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa pledges to free soldiers and military intelligence officers jailed by the current Government on false charges, and transform Sri Lanka into a secure country.

SLPP Presidential Candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa, yesterday, pledged to transform Sri Lanka into a secure country.

Addressing his inaugural campaign rally in Anuradapura, Rajapaksa said that people in some parts of the country could not visit their religious places of worship without being attacked though it was ten years since the defeat of terrorism.

Rajapaksa promised to free soldiers jailed by the current Government on false charges. The military intelligence officers had been arrested and jailed on false charges and they, too, would be released.

The former Defence Secretary said that government propagandists were bent on painting a black picture of him.

He said that as a "military man" he had been able to ensure the defeat of the LTTE in 2009. But for his military background, it would not have been possible to defeat terrorism, he added.

He said that civil security forces personnel who had completed 22 years in service would be given pension rights if he was elected President.

Rajapaksa promised to maximise concessions for farmers and uplift the standards of the poor. "It is our duty to uplift the lives of those living in rural areas," he said.

He also pledged to provide compensation to farmers who had suffered crop losses and write off loans they had drawn.

The SLPP candidate said his government would expand warehouse facilities for farmers to store their surplus harvest while also purchasing their stocks at a reasonable price.

The former Defence Secretary said that a programme to provide clean drinking water for every household would be one of his top priorities.

Rajapaksa said it was essential to obtain scientific advice from experts to end the human-elephant conflict.

He also promised to increase fund allocation for education.

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