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Lanka’s ex-Army chief Mahesh Senanayake to run for President

Mahesh Senanayake

Mahesh Senanayake   | Photo Credit: AFP

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NPM’s Senanayake pledges legal reform and a ‘new political’ culture for the country.

Former Army commander of Sri Lanka Mahesh Senanayake on Sunday announced that he would contest the November 16 Presidential election, pledging legal reform and a “new political” culture for the country.

General Senanayake is being fielded by the National People’s Movement (NPM), a collective of island-wide civil society organisations that converged in late 2018, with the aim of offering a political alternative.

“The present power struggle and rivalry action among main political parties may eventually pave the way for the evolution of a brutal dictatorship, in the absence of a feasible alternative to the people of this country,” states the NPM’s preamble, adding that the country could be saved only through “a structured and an organised people’s movement”.

In the presidential race, General Senanayake will face another former military officer, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the war-time Defence Secretary contesting from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), Deputy Leader and Minister Sajith Premadasa of the ruling United National Party (UNP), and Leader of the leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Anura Dissanayake.

Mr. Senanayake is the second Army commander to throw his hat in a presidential race, after Sarath Fonseka in 2010 against former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. General Fonseka lost to Mr. Rajapaksa.

Addressing an NPM event on Sunday, General Senanayake — who served the military for nearly four decades — underscored the need to maintain peace and harmony in the interest of national security, and vowed to eliminate political interference in legal action against those violating the law.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 11:51:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/lankas-ex-army-chief-mahesh-senanayake-to-run-for-president/article29550230.ece

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