Millions at May Day

mayPresident Mahinda Rajapaksa speaking at the SLFP May Day rally at Campbell Park, Borella said that the government had decided not to increase the electricity tariff up to 60 units and that there would be relief for consumers who use upto 180 units

Millions of Sri Lankans took to the streets in capital Colombo to celebrate May Day in style on Wednesday with President Mahinda Rajapaksa telling the nation that his policies have brought economic gains for the common people.

An estimated 2 million people flocked to Colombo, mostly ferried by government stuff using State-owned busses, which began their slow stroll in the afternoon to make their way to the Campbell Park and hear the President’s speech.

The impressive support comes at a time when the ruling party, United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) has faced strong criticism for high cost of living that culminated with an electricity price increase of 54 percent earlier this month.

Undeterred the government spent a considerable amount of money in staging a massive May Day rally to show the opposition that their power was still solid.

“We have brought peace to this land and ensured that every graduate has a job. We have hired more than 100 000 people, I think, and made them teachers, nurses and part of the greater development drive spearheaded by the government. We will continue to empower the common man,” he told a packed audience.

The government rally including the President’s speech was telecast live on all the State-owned TV channels complete with interviews from the participants.

Floats, dancing troupes and music bands were also used to provide color and diversion to the crowd.

May Day is a public holiday in Sri Lanka. Over 5,000 police were deployed to manage 17 rallies that were organized by different political parties.

Main opposition United National Party (UNP) conducted a more modest rally at their headquarters where Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe pledged to topple the government and highlighted the rising cost of living as evidence that the government was not concerned of the public.

“We have given repeated warnings to the government over and over again and urged for relief for the people but we will not do it again and therefore will topple the government as soon as possible,” he said.

Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) also staged a well-attended rally, which focused on the high cost of living and other issues.(Xinhuwa)

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