Sri Lanka poll nominations close

Record 22 people stand, but president and former army chief seen as main contenders.

    Incumbent President Rajapaksa is backed by the United People's Freedom Alliance [Reuters]

    Rajapaksa, who called the elections two years before his term expires in what analysts say is an attempt to take credit for ending the war, is backed by the United People's Freedom Alliance.

    Fonseka, who fell out with Rajapaksa over who was responsible for the victory against the Tigers, has the support of the two main opposition parties, the United National Party (UNP) and the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peremuna (JVP).

    Those two parties differ on economic policies, but have united behind Fonseka to take on Rajapaksa.

    Tamil voters

    The main Tamil party, which had earlier backed the Tamil Tiger fighters, has not announced who it will support, though analysts say it would probably lean to Fonseka as minorities have more confidence in the UNP.

    Tamils make up almost 12 per cent of Sri Lanka's population and, unlike past elections where the Tamil Tigers discouraged them from going to the polls, they could emerge as a key swing vote.

    Analysts say whoever wins will need a stable government to carry out reforms.

    "If Fonseka wins, he will have a better economic policy as he is backed by the UNP," said Sirimal Abeyratne, a senior economics lecturer at University of Colombo.

    "But it depends on his political strength and influence of the JVP. If Rajapaksa wins, he has to undertake some bold reforms to revive the economy, but he needs a strong government."

    In the past, governments won national polls on promises to end the war with the Tamil Tigers, or the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, while blaming the conflict for any failure to implement economic and political reforms.

    Sri Lanka's economy, still struggling to recover from both the financial crisis and the civil war, is expected to expand at an eight-year low of 3.5 per cent this year, from six per cent last year, the central bank said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.