- Title: Sri Lanka housing minister kicks off presidential campaign
- Date: 11th October 2019
- Summary: SUPPORTER HOLDING POSTER OF PREMADASA
- Embargoed: 25th October 2019 03:30
- Keywords: Sajith Premadasa presidential campaign election campaign launch Ranil Wickremesinghe
- Location: COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
- City: COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
- Country: Sri Lanka
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA003B0NI3BB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PART AUDIO AS INCOMING
Sri Lanka's presidential frontrunner housing minister Sajith Premadasa launched his campaign on Thursday (October 10), promising to appoint a wartime army chief as head of national security should he win the â€ªNovember 16 presidency in a nation still reeling from Easter Sunday Islamist attacks.
Premadasa, 52, is one of two presidential frontrunners and is popular for his anti-poverty credentials and memories of his father, former president Ranasinghe Premadasa who was killed by a Tamil Tiger separatist suicide attack in 1993.
He is facing a challenge from former wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 70, who has promised to ramp up national security and stamp out Islamist militancy. The issue has taken the central stage in the election following the bombings on churches and luxury hotels that killed more than 250 people on Easter Sunday.
Premadasa is contesting for the New Democratic Front (NDF), a broad alliance led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP).
He has tended to focus more on social issues and economic development, but on Thursday Premadasa, clad in an all white sleeveless shirt and trousers, touted his national security credentials during a speech to hundreds of thousands of supporters at the historic Galle Face Green by the ocean in the commercial capital Colombo.
Before the campaign meeting, he went to temples to invoke the blessings of Buddhist monks, who have influence over voters to decide their choice of candidate.
Premadasa's pledge comes as his rival Rajapaksa, popularly known as Gota, is facing a legal case on misappropriating state funds and allegations of human rights abuses when he was defence chief. Rajapaksa has denied any wrongdoing.
Premadasa entered into politics in 1994 for the centre-right UNP and held several ministerial portfolios including housing and poverty alleviation since first elected to the legislation in 2000. He has promised to eradicate poverty and improve housing in the country under a slogan of "shelter for all by 2025".
(Production: Waruna Karunatilake)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Footage contains photographs or artwork. User is responsible for obtaining additional clearances before publishing this clip.