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Around 500 people join JO rally at Nugegoda

Nearly 500 people boarded buses from Udahamulla, Nugegoda, and headed to Colombo to join the ‘Jana Balaya’ rally organised by the Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday morning.

The crowd first had an early lunch at Western Province Councillor Upali Kodikara’s home before making their way to Maharagama and via the High Level Road to the Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo, where they awaited instructions regarding the venue the rally was to be held.

“We are joining this struggle to bring back Mahinda Rajapaksa as the leader of this country,” former Mayor and National Organiser of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna for Maharagama, Kanthi Kodikara, told the Daily News.

She said the current government is trying to sell Sri Lanka to international entities and this needs to be stopped before it is too late. Kodikara said people want a leader like Mahinda Rajapaksa to steer the country in the right direction.

She added that the current government is attempting to make it impossible for Rajapaksa to contest in Presidential elections again, but she is hopeful that he will be appointed the Prime Minister.

Crowds were seen gathering at several venues around Colombo including the Viharamahadevi Park, Lake House Roundabout, Maradana and Fort. Most of the buses used for the transportation of crowds, even those that headed from Maharagama, were from outstations.

Interestingly, the protesters held similar slogans and wore same coloured caps, showing that the rally was well-organised and coordinated. They were also provided with alcohol and soft drinks.

Most of them urged President Maitripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to resign.

“We need a new ruler. That is why I am participating in this protest. All this government does is ‘attack’ the common man with taxes and high Cost of Living. We can’t live this way,” said H.B.Thilakaratna, 61, a businessman from Mirihana who joined the rally from Maharagama.

Meanwhile, Galle District Organiser of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Razick Anver who arrived in Colombo with his crowd around 2.45 pm said he is hopeful that the rally will lay foundation for a change.

“The Muslim community is here for want of a change. We are going through a really bad economic crisis. Our businesses are failing. Only Mahinda Rajapaksa can change this situation,” Anver said.

He said most of the people who joined him in the rally were former UNP supporters.