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Sri Lanka - election

Gov't claims Fonseca ineligible for president

Article published on the 2010-01-26 Latest update 2010-01-26 16:47 TU

Voting in Sri Lanka(Photo: Reuters)

Voting in Sri Lanka
(Photo: Reuters)

Sri Lanka's government says it will challenge the legitimacy of the leading opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka in the country's first presidential election since the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels. Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said it was seeking a court ruling on Fonseca's eligibility as a candidate.

Polls have closed in Sri Lanka, in the first presidential elections since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers early last year. A series of bomb attacks in the Tamil heartland, the Jaffna peninsula, led to a low turnout in the region, according to the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence.

The race is tight between the two main contenders - incumbent President Mahinda Rajapakse and his former army chief Sarath Fonseka.

A series of pre-dawn bomb blasts in the northern Tamil heartland of Jaffna opened the voting. Two explosive devices were thrown at the home of an organiser for Rajapakse's Sri Lankan Freedom Party. There were no injuries.

Analysis: Correspondent Amal Jayasinghe in Colombo

26/01/2010 by Angela Diffley

Both sides claim they will emerge the winners from the election when the results are announced on Wednesday.

The two candidates worked closely together during the war that ended last May, which wiped out the Tamil Tiger rebels who had been fighting for a Tamil homeland since 1972.

They then fell out over who should take credit for the victory.

There are no reliable opinion polls in the country and political observers say the race is too close to predict.

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