Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was confident of his own presidential victory when he called his election two years early, but the race is now closer than expected. Whoever wins Thursday’s election will inherit an strengthened economy along with deep wounds left from Sri Lanka’s civil war. CCTV America’s Owen Fairclough reported this story from Washington, D.C.
Sri Lankans prepare for historic presidential vote ThursdaySri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was confident of his own presidential victory when he called his election two years early, but the race is now closer than expected. Whoever wins Thursday's election will inherit an strengthened economy along with deep wounds left from Sri Lanka's civil war. CCTV America's Owen Fairclough reported this story from Washington, D.C.
According to a 2011 U.N. report, around 40,000 people died in the war, however Sri Lanka has rejected that number and said that around 7,000 people died.
Sri Lanka hasn’t cooperated with inquiries into war crimes allegedly committed by both government troops and Tamil insurgents in the fight for an independent state.
The impact of the war has continued to affect the island, and in particular President Rajapaksa, the leader credited with ending the conflict in 2009.
“Not only during the war, even in natural disasters like we have now, the military came forward to protect the nation and took charge to protect the country. When there is a threat to irrigation tanks they work 24 hours without sleep to repair the tanks,” Rajapaksa said. “That’s how the three armed forces have been trained.”
His opponent is a former cabinet ally who claims Rajapaksa has too much power.
“After the people called President Rajapaksa ‘king’ after bringing peace, he thought he must act like a king,” Mithripala Sirisena, Sri Lankan presidential candidate said. “He forgot the Sri Lanka Freedom Party which brought him to power. He silenced his cabinet. He silenced his parliamentarians.”
Sri Lanka’s Election Commissioner threatened on Wednesday to suspend vote counting in the crucial presidential elections, should the electoral process be affected by violence or polls violations, according to agency reports.
Results from the presidential ballot are expected Friday.
Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has said vote counting will be delayed until all ballot boxes have reached their respective counting centers, reports said.
Ballot boxes and election materials, meanwhile, were being distributed to voting centres on Wednesday amid concerns about vote rigging.
Sri Lankan lawmaker Arjuna Ranatunga, who is also a former captain of Sri Lanka’s cricket team was filmed inspecting a building complex suspected of being a potential hiding place for ballot boxes.
“We are very concerned about rigging and some of the unwanted things they are planning to do,” he said.
The election is expected to be one of the closest presidential contests in the country’s history.
Story compiled from CCTV America and AP reports.
Human rights activist Tasha Manoranjan discusses Sri Lankan elections
CCTV America’s Owen Fairclough interviewed Tasha Manoranjan, founder and director for People for Equality and Relief in Sri Lanka about the upcoming elections, the nation’s economy, the challenges the Tamil minority face, and growing Chinese investment.