Home News Who Will Be SRI-LANKA’s Next Presidents As They Go To Polls?

Who Will Be SRI-LANKA’s Next Presidents As They Go To Polls?

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Sri Lankans are going to the polls to choose their new leader, seven months after a devastating terror attack killed more than 250 people.

A total of 35 candidates are vying for votes in the presidential election, the third since the end of the country’s decades-long civil war in 2009.

The current president, however, is not on the ballot.

Maithripala Sirisena decided against running after coming under criticism following the Easter Sunday bombings.

The attack by Islamic State militants, which targeted churches and top-end hotels, left at least 253 people dead.

Just before polling got under way, there were reports of violence from the country’s northwest as gunmen opened fire on a convoy of buses carrying Muslim voters, but police said there were no casualties.

Who could be Sri Lanka’s next president?

Despite the two-foot long ballot paper to accommodate all the candidates’ names, this is an election with two clear frontrunners, one of whom has been accused of human rights abuses during his decade as defence secretary under his brother’s presidential rule.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was in power when thousands of people – particularly Tamils – went missing in what have been described as enforced disappearances between 2005 and 2015.

But it is also his role in ending the civil war which boosted Mr Rajapaksa’s fortunes after this year’s Easter Sunday attacks.

His tough stance on security impressed many in the country’s Sinhalese Buddhist majority following the attack, with supporters choosing to overlook the various allegations against him – including questions over citizenship.

The importance of security to voters has not gone unnoticed by his main rival, fellow front-runner Sajith Premadasa, who launched his campaign with a promise that if he won, he would hire the army chief who defeated the Tamil Tigers, Sarath Fonseka, to oversee national security.

 

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