New President Elected by Sri Lanka on Saturday

India Daily Post: The election will see a close contest between former wartime defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 70, and the ruling party candidate Sajith Premadasa, 52.

Sri Lanka will go to the polls on Saturday to choose a new president, an election that will decide the future of the country that struggles with security challenges after the Easter Sunday bombings and increasing political polarization.

The election will see a close contest between former wartime defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 70, and the ruling party candidate Sajith Premadasa, 52. Anura Kumara Dissanayake from the National People’s Power (NPP) coalition is also a strong candidate.

There are 15.9 million eligible voters who will choose a successor to President Maithripala Sirisina among a record 35 candidates.

Sirisena, who was elected in 2015, is not seeking a re-election.

The front runner candidates would be either depending on their legacies or hoping that the larger electorate would forget them while making their choices.

Premadasa, the ruling United National party (UNP) candidate, banks on his ‘man of the commoner’ image – a legacy of his father Ranasinghe Premadasa, the country’s president between 1989 and 1993 until the LTTE assassinated him in 1993.

Premadasa senior was a man of the poor. His welfare schemes and his low cost housing programs had endeared him to the masses.

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