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Talking tough – Sri Lanka’s candidates emphasise ‘national security’

Both Sri Lanka’s leading candidates in upcoming presidential polls have emphasised their commitment to “national security” and strengthening the controversial military, as canvassing heats up this week.

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella told Anadolu Agency that for Gotabaya Rajapaksa, national security “will remain his foremost agenda”.

“All countries prioritize national security,” he said. “There is no point in talking about reconciliation without ensuring national security.”

Meanwhile current government minister and Sajith Premadasa backer Harin Fernando said the issue of security was "important for Premadasa, as he lost his father -- Ranasinghe Premadasa". The former president was killed in a bomb attack in 1993.

"We will at no point compromise on it," Fernando told Anadolu Agency.

Both Rajapaksa and the younger Premadasa have also pledged to strengthen the military in their respective manifestos.

The Sri Lankan military stands accused of massacring tens of thousands of Tamil civilians in 2009, during an offensive that saw hospitals shelled and surrendering Tamils executed. To date, no one has been held accountable for the crimes committed during that period.