President Maithripala Sirisena to not contest Sri Lanka polls

Incumbent's name not on list of 41 candidates who paid deposits by Sunday's noon deadline to run in November 16 vote.

    Maithripala Sirisena has abandoned his re-election bid [File: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters]
    Maithripala Sirisena has abandoned his re-election bid [File: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters]

    Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has decided not to run in the country's presidential election next month.

    Sirisena's name was not on a list of 41 candidates who paid deposits by Sunday's noon deadline to contest the November 16 presidential poll, according to Election Commission records.

    Sirisena caused a constitutional crisis last year when he sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a former political rival.

    The Supreme Court later ruled against Sirisena's action and reinstated Wickremesinghe.

    Sirisena also faced criticism over the government's handling of an intelligence report warning of the Easter Day bombings that killed 250 people.

    Al Jazeera's Minelle Fernandez, reporting from Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, said Sirisena won the presidency in 2015 promising to bring change, including introducing anti-corruption measures and punishing those who plundered public funds under the Rajapaksa administration.

    "However, his tenure has been fraught with disappointment for Sri Lankan voters, and despite trying desperately in recent months to garner support to able to mount a re-election bid, Sirisena has been forced to admit that he is not going to make it," she added.

    Rajapaksa family candidacies

    Nominations for Sri Lanka's election will be accepted on Monday. Among the record 41 candidates who posted cash bonds on Sunday were two members of the influential Rajapaksa family.

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    Gotabaya Rajapaksa - a former secretary to the Ministry of Defence during his brother's decade in power - is the frontrunner, but faces several court cases over corruption allegations and the validity of his Sri Lankan citizenship.

    He says he has renounced the United States citizenship he obtained in 2003.

    On Friday, a court dismissed a case seeking the cancellation of Gotabaya's citizenship, clearing the way for him to register as a candidate.

    However, with doubts over his eligibility, the family is also fielding elder brother Chamal, a former speaker of parliament, as a backup.

    Some 15.99 million men and women over the age of 18 years are eligible to vote in the election.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies