Take the pledge to vote

For a better tommorow#AajSawaroApnaKal
  • I agree to receive emails from News18

  • I promise to vote in this year's elections no matter what the odds are.
  • Please check above checkbox.

    SUBMIT

Thank you for
taking the pledge

Vote responsibly as each vote counts
and makes a diffrence

Disclaimer:

Issued in public interest by HDFC Life. HDFC Life Insurance Company Limited (Formerly HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Limited) (“HDFC Life”). CIN: L65110MH2000PLC128245, IRDAI Reg. No. 101 . The name/letters "HDFC" in the name/logo of the company belongs to Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited ("HDFC Limited") and is used by HDFC Life under an agreement entered into with HDFC Limited. ARN EU/04/19/13618
LIVE TV DownloadNews18 App
News18 English
News18 » World
3-min read

In 1st Polls Since Easter Attacks, Sri Lankans Up for Tomorrow's Showdown Between 'Padman' & 'Terminator'

Nearly 16 million people are set to cast their vote in the elections of Saturday after weeks of rallie saw leaders campaign around national security and religious extremism.

Associated Press

Updated:November 15, 2019, 9:21 AM IST
facebookTwitter Pocket whatsapp
In 1st Polls Since Easter Attacks, Sri Lankans Up for Tomorrow's Showdown Between 'Padman' & 'Terminator'
File photo of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. (Reuters)

Colombo, Sri Lanka: Sri Lankans are voting Saturday for a new president after weeks of campaigning that largely focused on national security and religious extremism in the backdrop of the deadly Islamic State-inspired suicide bomb attacks on Easter Sunday.

The Election

Nearly 16 million people are eligible to vote for the president from among a record 35 candidates.

Polls open at 7 am (0130 GMT). Elections officials say that because of the large number of contestants and the time needed for the voters to identify their choices on a long ballot paper, voting time has been extended by one hour, up to 5 p.m. (1130 GMT). Final results are expected possibly on Monday.

The Process

Voters can choose up to three candidates in their preferential order. The candidate who polls 50% plus one vote as the first preference will be declared the winner.

However, with a large number of candidates in the race, there is a chance that no one will get the minimum number of votes. In that case, candidates except the leading two will be eliminated and the second preference from their ballot paper will be added to one of the two top vote-getters. One with the highest number of votes is the winner.

National Security

After the coordinated Easter Sunday suicide attacks, national security has once again become the biggest concern in the Indian Ocean island nation that was once the scene of one of Asia’s longest civil wars. The April 21 bombings killed 269 people when local Muslim militants who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group blew themselves up in three churches and three hotels.

The blasts have brought forth the issue of Islamic extremism, which up till then was not considered a major problem.

They also exposed serious shortcomings in the security apparatus. A parliamentary inquiry found that Sri Lanka’s spy chief knew about possible attacks 17 days before they happened, and he delayed relaying the information to other agencies and the military. The attacks exposed a rift between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that led to a prolonged political crisis last year.

Strong Leader

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a retired lieutenant colonel and former powerful defense official who played a major role in defeating the Tamil rebels under his brother, ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is a front-runner. Many among Sri Lanka’s majority ethnic Sinhalese Buddhists look up to him as the strong leader in the aftermath of the Easter attacks. This is in spite of allegations that he condoned human rights violations during the war. He is accused of controlling death squads that abducted, tortured and killed critical journalists and activists. Gotabaya, who has been dubbed as "Terminator" by his own family, is also accused of ordering the deaths of scores of rebels and civilians who surrendered to the military in the final days of the civil war in 2009. He denies the allegations.

A California court recently dismissed a case filed by the daughter of a murdered journalist that Gotabaya was behind her father’s killing, saying it lacks jurisdiction.

Gotabaya also has alienated many Muslims because they believe he sponsored extremist Buddhist monks and groups that have carried out a series of attacks against the minority and their businesses.

Other Notable Contenders

— Sajith Premadasa, a charismatic housing minister and son of a former president. He promises to appoint war-winning army commander Sarath Fonseka as his minister of defense. He says Fonseka is a more experienced battleground commander and a better defense strategist than Gotabaya. He has said he is committed to women’s rights and has vowed to “wear the ‘padman’ label proudly” in a conservative Buddhist society where menstruation remains a taboo subject.

— Retired Gen. Mahesh Senanayake. He’s the most recent army commander credited with efficiently handling the aftermath of the Easter Sunday blasts.

Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox - subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and on YouTube, and stay in the know with what's happening in the world around you – in real time.

Read full article
Next Story
Next Story

facebookTwitter Pocket whatsapp

Live TV

Countdown To Elections Results
To Assembly Elections 2018 Results