Gotabaya Rajapaksa (File Photo)
Gotabaya Rajapaksa (File Photo)

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sajith Premadasa frontrunners in race to be President as Sri Lanka heads to polls

ANI | Updated: Nov 16, 2019 02:22 IST

Colombo [Sri Lanka]. Nov 16 (ANI): Months after a deadly terror attack shattered the calm that Sri Lanka had and left over 250 people dead, the country heads to polls on November 16 to elect a new President.
With incumbent Maithripala Sirisena choosing not to seek re-election, a total of 35 candidates from several parties are in the fray to replace him.
Al Jazeera reported quoting analysts that the fight is down to two contestants -- the ruling United National Party's (UNP) Sajith Premadasa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa from the opposition Sri Lanka People's Front (SLPP) party.
Sajith Premadasa, a cabinet Minister in current Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's government, is the son of former President Ranasinghe Premadasa who was assassinated by Tamil Tiger rebels in 1993.
On the other hand, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the brother of former Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksha. The Rajapaksa brothers are credited with ending the war with Tamil rebels.
According to Al Jazeera, "Rajapaksa presided over the end of Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war with Tamil rebels in 2009 and has been accused of being responsible for human rights violations committed at that time." Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is also backing the SLPP.
Some of the other candidates include Anura Kumara Dissanayake from Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Mahesh Senanayake, the retired Army Chief from National People's Party (NPP).
Sri Lanka based Colombo Page quoted the incumbent President as saying that for the first time in history, the presidential election is fair and peaceful since the incumbent president opted not to seek re-election and to remain non-partisan.
In another report, it quoted the Prime Minister Wikramsinghe as calling on the public to peacefully vote and maintain law and order for a free and fair election.
Referring to the April 21 terror attacks, Al Jazeera stated that voters will be concerned about addressing those issues and ensuring that such attacks do not recur. The attacks adversely impacted the thriving tourism industry in the country.
The term of incumbent President was also marred by his attempt to remove the Prime Minister. The country's top court, however, reinstated Wikramsinghe.
CNN in its report said there are 15.9 million eligible voters in the country and polls open Saturday at 7 a.m. local time, closing at 5 p.m., an hour later than at previous elections.
The winner is expected to be announced by Monday midday, but election officials have warned of potential delays should the result be contested or candidates demand a recount. (ANI)