Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is seeking a second term in the January 26 election and his main opponent and the Opposition consensus candidate, retired General Sarath Fonseka on Saturday kicked off their campaign with big rallies in the holy towns of Kalatura in the south and Jaffna in the north.

According to local media reports, both rallies attracted huge crowds. There was great interest in the maiden visit of the commander-turned-politician to Jaffna, as he undertook it at the behest of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which in the last Parliamentary election had the backing of the LTTE.

On his arrival in Jaffna, the former Army Chief held a meeting with the religious dignitaries and visited the historic Nallur temple before addressing a large gathering .

In his address, the retired General said if elected, he would re-assess the High Security Zones of the North and if required some of them would be removed. Besides, he also promised the expeditious resettlement of the war displaced Tamil civilians.

While systemic changes like the abolition of executive presidency and the alleged corruption and nepotism of Mr. Rajapaksa is the focus of Gen (retd.) Fonseka’s campaign, the President has made development after the military defeat of the LTTE his main poll plank.

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