Thousands of Sri Lankans took to the streets in capital Colombo and the southern city of Galle on Sunday to celebrate the International Workers' Day, with President Maithripala Sirisena telling his nation that he would strengthen Sri Lanka's position in the Indian Ocean region.
Large crowds flocked to Galle by Sunday afternoon to show their firm support for Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). A colorful procession with dancers and drums was held as crowds made their way to the Samanala Grounds to hear the president's address.
"As all of you have gathered here, I promise to take this nation forward and make this a competitive country in the South Asian region. We have already received the support of the international community and I vow to uplift the living standards of the public soon," Sirisena told the public who had gathered there despite the heavy rains.
Sirisena's speech was telecast live on the state-owned TV channels complete with interviews from the participants.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, addressing a massive crowd in the United National Party's May Day rally held in Campbell Park, in Colombo said that the government was committed in its fight against corruption and vowed to bring down the high cost of living and strengthen the island's economy.
He said that the government would present a new developed nation by 2020 and had already launched a megapolis development program which would transform the capital and its suburbs.
Wickremesinghe, amidst loud cheer, also said that the mega Colombo Port City project, funded by China, which was recently allowed to resume construction in the island nation would be an economic hub in the region.
He said the Port City would also attract more investments and strengthen Sri Lanka's role in the Indian Ocean region.
Over 6,000 police were deployed to manage the rallies that were organized by different political parties which started on Sunday afternoon and continued till late evening.