Namal Rajapaksha to challenge Mahinda Rajapaksa

COLOMBO, Dec 08, 2014 (EconomyNext) – Nineteen candidates, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa, have paid deposits for contesting the January 8 elections, but an unexpected Namal Rajapaksha too entered the fray at the last minute, the elections commission said Sunday.

However, the Namal Rajapaksha taking the president head on is not the Hambantota district parliamentarian and eldest son of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, but a human rights lawyer.

The Elections Secretariat will accept nominations for the presidential polls Monday morning.

Rajapaksa Percy Mahendra of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and Palle Watte Gamaralalage Maithreepala Yapa Sirisena of the New Democratic Party (NDP) are the two main contenders. The others are joining in for the ride.

If the younger Rajapaksha of the Our National Front might confuse some voters, so will another Sirisena from the Patriotic National Front.

The common opposition candidate Sirisena has five initials and his name is the longest. It could take up two lines on the ballot paper which will have wildlife symbols.

Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Nigeria, A. S. P. Liyanage, is contesting from his Sri Lanka Labour Party whose symbol is a kangaroo.

Liyanage hopped into the race as he has done in previous years before he was given a diplomatic posting by President Rajapaksa for services rendered at the previous poll.

Liyanage, a former tuition-master-turned-land-dealer and one-time jail bird accused of fraud, may have been aptly posted to Nigeria, the capital of some fascinating scams, but he appears to have returned home to enter the fray.

All candidates will be given equal air time on national radio and television but some may bat for either of the two main contenders.

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