Record number of candidates for Presidency
There will be tight security around the Elections Commission office in Rajagiriya Monday morning as a record number of contestants for the Presidential Elections are due to hand in their nomination papers.
Forty-one aspirants have made deposits to contest the election for a post that has lost the sweeping executive power the Presidency has had since the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed after the 2015 election.
Police headquarters issued a warning Sunday night that no protests or marches will be permitted around the premises.
This is the first time a Presidential election will be held without a nominee from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which has produced two former Presidents and four Prime Ministers in the history of this country.
Despite the 19A curbs the enthusiasm to grab the seat as the highest in the land seems high.
The contestants range from nominees representing established political parties to social activists and businessmen.
Among the front-runners is Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa who is the candidate for the New Democratic Front, the alliance anchored by the ruling United National Front. He is the son of a former President, Ranasinghe Premadasa who was killed while in office by terrorists.
Two of the brothers of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, former Secretary to the Ministry of Defense Gotabaya and former Speaker Chamal are in the running. Gotabaya as the candidate for the Rajapaksa family-controlled Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and Chamal as the candidate for the Sri Lanka Podujana Nidahas Peramuna.
It is likely that Chamal will withdraw his nomination in case any challenges to Gotabaya’s candidacy are not upheld.
New faces include technology magnate Rohan Pallewatte to recently retired Army Commander Lt. Gen Mahesh Senanayake, both men responding to the popular call for non-career politicians to enter the fray.
On Sunday controversial former Government M L A M Hizbullah and former Parliamentarian M K Sivajilingam were among those who beat the noon deadline to post deposits.