Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse today asked his supporters for more time to announce dates for snap elections as he faced an unexpected challenge from his erstwhile military chief.
Rajapakse told the annual convention of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party that he wanted more time to consult the party
hierarchy on the election. He had been widely expected to announce the vote timetable.
"You seem to want presidential elections before parliamentary elections," Rajapakse said at the nationally
televised convention. "I will tell the party (leaders) and let you know at the right time."
The government had earlier announced that presidential elections would be held before April, even though Rajapakse's
term is not due to end until November 2012.
The ruling party had wanted to capitalise on military success in defeating the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in May,
after nearly 37 years of fighting.
However, the top general who led the successful military drive has since fallen out with Rajapakse and wants to
challenge him as the combined opposition candidate.
General Sarath Fonseka resigned last week after accusing the government of corruption, mismanagement and failing to
"win the peace" with minority Tamils after the military defeat of the Tigers.