Canvassing for the January 26 Presidential election ended Saturday, bringing to close the personal and bitter campaigning by the two leading contenders, incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa and retired army general, Sarath Fonseka, against each other.
On the final day, Rajapaksa and Fonseka addressed rallies in and around Colombo, reaching out to the 14 million electorate. There are 20 others in fray but the focus has remained on the two.
Both of them claimed credit for the victory of the armed forces against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Rajapaksa further promised a stable future and economic progress. He addressed rallies in Tamil refugee camps, promising them resettlement and resumption of livelihood.
A disaffected Fonseka, who fell out with Rajapaksa months after the war was over, resigned in November from the post of chief of defence staff.
Soon, he was propped up as the opposition’s consensus candidate against Rajapaksa.
On his part, Fonseka’s campaign mantra revolved around corruption of the ruling class and allegations of nepotism.
During the campaign, both wooed the Tamil community votes. They toured the Tamil heartlands of Jaffna and Trincomalee and Batticaloa promising to address their demands.
Politically, however, neither has offered anything concrete on how they would resolve the ethnic issue between the Sinhalese and the Tamils.
Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has said that he expects to release the final result of the election early on January 27.