Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a former Sri Lankan defence chief and front runner in the upcoming presidential elections, reiterated the promise of a fresh probe into the Easter attacks if he wins. Rajapaksa said that a presidential commission would be formed on the request of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, a top leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka.
Rajapaksa, leader of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), kept the issue of national security as a focal point for his election campaigns which has made him a strong contender for winning the elections. He played a crucial rule in ending the prolonged civil war and his popularity has increased after his pledge to bolster national security.
On October 13, in an election rally in Kadawatha, a town on the outskirts of Colombo, Rajapaksa had promised of a legal cover to the intelligence agencies.
“We will give due powers to the intelligence officers and also the necessary legal cover to perform their duties,” said Rajapaksa. “By doing so, we will rebuild a secured country where you can live without any fear,” he added.
Rajapaksa was amongst the favourites to win the presidential elections and after the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) announced their unconditional support, his candidature got a major boost before an all-important election scheduled for November 16.
"The SLFP will sign two Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) to form a new alliance called Sri Lanka Freedom People's Alliance," said SLFP parliamentarian Nimal Siripala de Silva at a press meet.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena ruled himself out of the race and didn’t file his nomination before the deadline. Last year, Sri Lanka went through a constitutional crisis when the power equations kept shifting. Sirisena appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister but the Supreme Court declared the move unconstitutional. A no-confidence motion was then moved against Rajapaksa which threw the country into deeper crisis. The apex court had also overturned Sirisena’s decision to dissolve the parliament and ordered a stay on the snap elections.
(With Inputs from Agencies)