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* Sri Lanka's former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says he will run for President and tackle radical Islam if he wins
Sat, Apr 27, 2019, 09:45 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 27, Colombo: Sri Lanka's former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said on Friday that he would run for president in elections this year and would stop the spread of Islamist extremism by rebuilding the intelligence service and surveilling citizens.

In an interview with Reuters Gotabaya said the Easter Sunday attacks could have been prevented if the current government had not dismantled the intelligence network and extensive surveillance capabilities that he built up during the war and later on.

"Because the government was not prepared, that's why you see a panic situation," he said.

The war-time Defense Secretary has criticized the government's response to the bombings. Since the attacks, the government has struggled to provide clear information about how they were staged, who was behind them and how serious the threat is from Islamic State to the country.

"Various people are blaming various people, not giving exactly the details as to what happened, even people expect the names, what organization did this, and how they came up to this level, that explanation was not given," he said.

He said that if he won, his immediate focus would to be tackle the threat from radical Islam and to rebuild the security set-up.

"It's a serious problem, you have to go deep into the groups, dismantle the networks," he said, adding he would give the military a mandate to collect intelligence from the ground and to mount surveillance of groups turning to extremism.

Speaking about the law suits against him in the U.S. Court, Gotabaya said the cases were baseless and only a "little distraction" as he prepared for the election campaign. He said he had asked U.S. authorities to renounce his citizenship and that process was nearly done, clearing the way for his candidature.

 

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