War victory will not be used for election campaign

  • Says GR will only speak of polices but national security will remain central topic 
  • Claims SLPP unaware of newspaper advertisement which used Army Commander’s image 
  • GR’s policy statement to be published on 25 Oct. 

By Nuwan Senarathna 

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday said it would not use the war victory to gain political mileage, with presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa instead set to speak about his policies for addressing existing economic and social issues. 

However, they did emphasise that national security would remain at the core of their campaign.  

Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya on Wednesday said the war victory was a collective achievement and therefore could not be used for election propaganda. He added that doing so was a violation of the Code of Conduct issued for contesting political parties while pointing out that ownership of war victories belonged to the entire country.

Speaking to the media at Mandarina Hotel in Colombo, SLPP Spokesman MP Keheliya Rambukwella said that Rajapaksa would speak about his policies and plans to tackle existing economic and social challenges. 

“We are not using the war victory anymore as the entire country knows who gave leadership to win the war and what we did to develop the country. Therefore, I do not see any necessity to promote the war victory to gain any political advantage,” Rambukwella said. 

However, he stated that the SLPP candidate would continue to speak on national security, which Rambukwella argued remained one of the biggest challenges that needed to be addressed to prevent any future terror attack. He declared that national security and the war victory were two separate topics and they should not be mixed, noting that it was possible for candidates to give their views on the latter during campaigning. 

Referring to the full-page advertisement in support of the SLPP presidential candidate, published in several newspapers using an image and quote from Army Commander Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva from 2009, Rambukwella said he was unaware of such an advertisement. 

“We are not using anyone for our political campaign but if an individual made a comment then that has to be dealt with by the Election Commission. A quote is a quote; that cannot be changed. Whether it is used for an advertisement or not, it is something which is already in the public domain,” he argued. 

Rambukwella also said the SLPP presidential candidate’s policy statement would be launched on 25 October at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre. He asserted that Rajapaksa’s policy statement would provide a range of solutions on how he would develop the country. 

Pic by Shehan Gunasekara