Tamil and Sinhalese cast their votes for new president of Sri Lanka
Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The polls opened for Sri Lankans this morning to cast their votes for the 7th presidential election amid tight security. Voting for the election began at 7:00 a.m. today and ends at 4.00 p.m. Some 15 million voters will be eligible to cast their ballots at 12,314 polling stations nationwide.
A total of 19 candidates are vying for the top post although the major battle is between the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is seeking an unprecedented third term, and his challenger, his former cabinet minister and common opposition candidate, Maithripala Sirisena.
Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has requested the voters to cast their votes as early as possible and leave the polling center after casting the vote without delay. It is prohibited to loiter around the polling centers.
About 25,000 local election monitors and 55 international election observers are monitoring today's presidential polls.
Last days few sinhalese newspapers claimed that pope Francis had cancelled his visit in Sri Lanka (12-15 January), due to criticism for the contiguity between the trip and the presidential elections. Yesterday fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokerperson, pointed out that the trip doesn't fall during electoral campaigns, so there won't be any consequences on it.