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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 78

Background to the current Sri Lanka presidential election

[b]Background to the current Sri Lanka presidential election[/b]

[b] Colombo, 17 November, ([/b] The number 13 figures prominently in this presidential election. There are 13 candidates competing to win the hearts and minds of 13 million voters. This is also Ranil Wickremesinghe's 13th attempt to win power. 56-year-old Wickremasinghe, the leader of the opposition, has lost 12 times before. Some of his closest allies in the UNP have been pessimistic about his winning this time too. Whether 13 is going to be his lucky number or not will be known today.

His main rival is Mahinda Rajapakse who will be 60 in two day’s time. Prime Minister Rajapakse hopes to combine his birthday celebrations with a victory celebration if he wins today. This is his first presidential election.

The stakes for both candidates are very high. If Wickremasinghe loses this election it is doubtful whether he could retain the leadership of the party. In any other parliamentary democracy the leader of the opposition would have resigned after the first or second loss. But Wickremesinghe had continued regardless. Party insiders are already sharpening their knives in case he loses this time. But before that happens, it is most likely that he will resign.

Mahinda Rajapakse can continue to be where he is if he happens to lose. He has the popular backing of the party. Even if parliament is dissolved and if he loses the majority in the House he has the chance of being the leader of the opposition.

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