Colombo, Dec 18: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday held election rallies in a former Tamil Tiger stronghold and urged Tamils to vote for him in next month's presidential election.
Addressing a rally in the northern town of Mullaitivu, once the hub of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Rajapaksa said people of the north faced 30 years of hardship with no hope for a future.
Xinhua quoted him as saying that his government changed everything five years ago by defeating the LTTE and giving the public a good future. Mullaitivu was under rebel control for years before the army vanquished the LTTE in May 2009.
Rajapaksa noted that the government had developed the north and constructed new roads and reconstructed schools and hospitals in the area.
The president urged the Tamils not to be misled by "false propaganda" and insisted that his government would treat all Sri Lankans equally and not as divided communities.
"Some people want to take this country backwards. Look at what has happened to Iraq, Libya and Egypt. We can't let that happen to our country and we will not allow that.
"Four days ago innocent children were killed in a terrorist attack in Pakistan. I spoke to the Pakistan prime minister and expressed our grief. We can't allow a situation like that to occur in Sri Lanka," he said.
Later, speaking in Tamil, the president said he was glad to be able to address the public in the north and told the Tamils to trust him.
He said he would always protect them and urged them to support him.