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18 August, 2015 00:00 00 AM
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Rajapakse plots comeback as Sri Lanka votes

AFP

AFP, COLOMBO: A bullish Mahinda Rajapakse said he was confident of staging a shock return to power as Sri Lanka’s prime minister in elections yesterday held just months after he was toppled as president.
Monitors said the vote, called a year ahead of schedule by President Maithripala Sirisena, was largely peaceful despite some reports of candidates trying to bribe voters.
Election officials put turnout at around 65 per cent—higher than the last parliamentary polls in 2010, but well below the 81 per cent who turned out in January to hand Sirisena his surprise victory over veteran strongman Rajapakse.
The president has threatened to invoke his executive powers to prevent his combative predecessor from becoming prime minister, but Rajapakse is hoping a strong showing will force Sirisena to back down.
Since his surprise victory over his former mentor in a January 8 presidential election, Sirisena has struggled to impose his authority over his United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and was powerless to prevent Rajapakse from standing as one of its candidates. “We will win and that is certain,” Rajapakse said shortly after voting in his home constituency of Hambantota at the astrologically auspicious time of 10.53 am. “My message is to remain calm and peacefully enjoy our victory.”
Rajapakse’s optimism is at odds with analysts’ predictions that no single party will win a majority and that the former president’s hardline nationalism will undermine his quest for coalition partners.
The 69-year-old remains hugely popular among big sections of the majority Sinhalese community for presiding over the crushing defeat of Tamil guerrillas in 2009 after their 37-year war for a separate homeland. But while he has drawn big crowds to rallies, he remains a polarising figure on an island still struggling to come to terms with the past.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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