A record 35 candidates vie for Sri Lanka’s presidency
A record 35 candidates filed nominations Monday for next month’s Sri Lankan presidential election, but the incumbent has opted not to seek a second term with the entry of popular former defense chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is considered the favorite.
Rajapaksa, who served as defense chief under his brother and then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is popular for his part in ending Sri Lanka’s long civil war a decade ago.
President Maithripala Sirisena, who likely would have had difficulty beating Rajapaksa, did not pay a mandatory deposit by a Sunday deadline and became ineligible to file a nomination. Rajapaksa represents a breakaway party of Sirisena’s and has the loyalty of a majority from Sirisena’s party.
A record 41 aspirants paid deposits before the deadline, but six of them pulled out of the race. The Election Commission opened a two-hour period for nominations Monday.
Still, the 35 candidates are the most to contest a presidential election in the Indian Ocean island nation. The previous high was 22 candidates in 2010.
Rajapaksa’s main rival will be Sajith Premadasa, from the governing coalition. He is a son of former President Ranasinghe Premadasa, who was assassinated in 1993 by the Tamil Tiger rebels. The rebels were eventually defeated in the civil war.
Among the presidential candidates are two Buddhist monks, four people from the country’s minority Muslim community and two from the Tamil community. There is only one female candidate.
Latest Headlines in Sri Lanka
- United Petroleum enters Sri Lanka’s fuel market, secures supply contract February 26, 2024
- Sri Lankan opposition parties sign no-confidence motion against speaker February 26, 2024
- Public Health Inspector (PHI) shot dead in Elpitiya February 26, 2024
- Sri Lanka’s justice minister assures presidential election scheduled for 2024 February 26, 2024
- Wanindu Hasaranga suspended for two matches, fined February 25, 2024