Consultations for the office of president will take place on November 16th. In all, 41 candidates are presented. The most likely winners are Gotabaya and Chamal Rajapaksa, brothers of former dictator Mahinda.
Colombo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena has decided not to contest the presidential elections to be held on November 16th, leaving the road open to the two main opposition candidates: the brothers Gotabhaya and Chamal of the powerful Rajapaksa family (photo 2).
The deadline for submitting nominations was 12 yesterday and by noon the name of the current president was missing. The Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) spokesman, the party headed by Sirisena confirmed that he will not run in the upcoming presidential elections. His renouncement also determines that the seat of the highest office of the State will remain vacant for 52 days, before the new president takes office in early January.
In all, 41 candidates will compete. Of these, the most popular are the Rajapaksa brothers, already known to the population and contested by some sectors. Both members of the Sri Lanka People's Front presented the candidacy against Sajith Premadasa, vice president of the United National Party of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The candidacy of Chamal (the older of the two) is to offset a possible exclusion of Gotabaya from the race, given the several corruption trials charges he faces. His figure has divided public opinion: supporters consider him a war hero for defeating the Tamil Tigers rebels in the final stages of the civil conflict; the Tamils and the survivors in the areas most bombed by the army, of which he was responsible as secretary of defense, accuse him of making thousands of civilians disappear.
President Sirisena's abandonment of the electoral race raises questions about a growing crisis of his leadership, which deepened last year when he tried to put Wickremesinghe, his main opponent, aside. After replacing him with former dictator Mahinda Rajapaksa (the most famous of the brothers, who was in government when the Tigers were defeated), the Supreme Court overturned his decision and resettled him in his place.
Meanwhile, the country has been engulfed in administrative chaos for several months. According to some experts, including Card. Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, the confusion led to ignoring the signals coming from the most extremist fringes of the Muslim community, which prepared the grounds for the attacks on Easter Sunday.