Sri Lanka president abandons re-election bid

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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has decided not to stand for re-election in November polls as the politically influential Rajapakse family nominated two candidates by final registration Sunday.

Sirisena’s name was not on a list of 41 candidates who paid deposits by Sunday’s noon deadline to contest the November 16 presidential poll, according to Election Commission records.

It means Sirisena will leave office the day after the election, cutting short his five-year term by 52 days.

A spokesman for Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) confirmed he was not seeking re-election.

Sirisena caused a constitutional crisis last year when he sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with former president Mahinder Rajapakse.

The Supreme Court later ruled against Sirisena’s action and reinstated Wickremesinghe.

Two of Rajapakse’s brothers -- younger sibling Gotabhaya and elder Chamal -- have paid deposits to be candidates and challenge Sajith Premadasa, the deputy leader of Wickremesinghe’s United National Party.

Gotabhaya -- a former secretary to the ministry of defense during his brother’s decade in power -- is the front-runner, but faces several court cases over corruption allegations and the validity of his Sri Lankan citizenship.

He says he has renounced the US citizenship he obtained in 2003.

However, with doubts over his eligibility, the family is also fielding elder brother Chamal, a former speaker of parliament, as a backup.

Some 15.99 million men and women over the age of 18 years are eligible to vote in the election.

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