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22 candidates and foreign monitors for Presidential polls

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former chief of defence staff general Sarath Fonseka were among the 22 candidates whose nominations were accepted by the ED on Thursday for the Presidential election on January 26.

world Updated: Dec 17, 2009 19:30 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former chief of defence staff general Sarath Fonseka were among the 22 candidates whose nominations were accepted by the Election Department (ED) on Thursday for the Presidential election on January 26.

More than 14 million Sri Lankans would be eligible to vote in the election, the first countrywide poll after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers.

International election monitoring bodies have been invited to monitor the polls; election commissioner Dayananda Dissanayaka said after filing of nominations was over.

The European Union, United Nations, Commonwealth Union and the Asian Association of Election Authorities (AAEA) have given a positive reply, the Ada Derana website quoted Dissanayaka as saying.

After submitting his papers, a confident Rajapaksa told reporters that the January 2010 election would be a repeat of his 2005 election victory.

According to the government website news.lk, Rajapaksa recalled that in 2005 he had pledged to unite this fragmented nation to a single country with one people irrespective of racial differences. "I crushed the ruthless LTTE terrorism that demanded separatism and fulfilled my pledge," the website quoted Rajapaksa as saying.

There was drama at the ED office during filing of nominations when one of the President hopefuls, lawyer Sarath Kongahage, objected to Fonseka's candidature. Kongahage argued that the former army chief should not be allowed to fight the polls because he was an US citizen.

Dissanayaka, according to reports, rejected the objection due to the lack of documented evidence to back the claim.

Fonseka is a green-card holder and at his maiden press conference two weeks ago had said that he would give up the card, but only if he won the election.

Meanwhile, MP from the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party, former cricketer, Arjuna Ranatunga on Thursday said that he would support Fonseka in election.