Sri Lanka President Sirisena abandons re-election bid

A spokesman for Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) confirmed he was not seeking re-election. PHOTO: REUTERS

COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has decided not to stand for re-election in November polls, as the politically influential Rajapaksa family nominated two candidates by final registration on Sunday (Oct 6).

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

It means Mr Sirisena will leave office the day after the election, cutting short his five-year term by 52 days.

A spokesman for Mr Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) confirmed he was not seeking re-election.

Mr Sirisena caused a constitutional crisis last year when he sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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

Two of Mr Rajapaksa's brothers - younger sibling Gotabhaya and elder Chamal - have paid deposits to be candidates and challenge Mr Sajith Premadasa, the deputy leader of Mr Wickremesinghe's United National Party.

Gotabhaya - a former secretary to the ministry of defence during his brother's decade in power - is the front runner, 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.

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.

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