The Hindu: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa took a stroll in a local open space, the Independence Avenue Park, on Sunday – his first without a locality being sanitised ahead of his appearance.
In a city with many Army sentry posts and barricades, this marked another first: that of a President stepping out in an open, fairly crowded space and signalling an end to the siege mentality that has been the defining feature of Sri Lanka for many decades.
Rajapaksa, the most protected person in Sri Lanka because of the threats to his life from various quarters, drove down to the Independence Avenue in his black 7-series BMW, with barely any security.
“After he finished a meeting, he told us to come with him to the Square,” said the President’s Secretary, Lalith Weeratunga. He and the former Justice Minister, Milinda Moragoda, were with the President.
Moragoda is the ruling UPFA’s candidate for Mayor in the upcoming Colombo Municipal Council elections. The walk, in some ways, also signalled the launch of the UPFA’s campaign.