Sri Lanka presidential candidates Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Sajith Premadasa, November 2019

Image copyright

Sri Lankans voted to choose a new president on Saturday, seven months after a devastating terror attack killed more than 250 people.

A total of 35 candidates were vying for votes in the presidential election, the third since the end of the country’s decades-long civil war in 2009.

The current president, however, was not on the ballot.

Maithripala Sirisena decided against running after coming under criticism following the Easter Sunday bombings.

The attack by Islamic State group-linked militants in April, which targeted churches and high-end hotels across the island, left at least 253 people dead.

The government was forced to later admit it had suffered a “major intelligence lapse”, with the defence secretary revealing an Indian intelligence warning from the beginning of the month about planned attacks was not properly shared by the authorities.

Image copyright

Just before polling got under way, gunmen opened fire on a convoy of buses carrying Muslim voters in the country’s north-west. The perpetrators built a makeshift roadblock out of burning tyres, before shooting at the buses and pelting them with stones.

Police said there were no casualties, but two women were injured by the stones.

Meanwhile in the northern Jaffna peninsula, police said 10 men were arrested for “trying to create trouble”.

Despite these incidents turnout was reported to be high, with election chief Mahinda Deshapriya saying it was over 80%.

Who could be Sri Lanka’s next president?

Although there was a two-foot long ballot paper to accommodate all the candidates’ names, this was an election with two clear frontrunners, one of whom has been accused of human rights abuses during his decade as defence secretary under his brother’s presidential rule.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was in power when thousands of people – particularly Tamils – went missing in what have been described as enforced disappearances between 2005 and 2015.

But it was also his role in ending the civil war that boosted Mr Rajapaksa’s fortunes after this year’s Easter Sunday attacks.

Image copyright

His tough stance on security impressed many in the country’s Sinhalese Buddhist majority following the attack, with supporters choosing to overlook the various allegations against him – including questions over citizenship.

The importance of security to voters did not go unnoticed by his main rival, fellow frontrunner Sajith Premadasa. He launched his campaign with a promise that if he won, he would hire the army chief who defeated the Tamil Tigers, Sarath Fonseka, to oversee national security.

More about Sri Lanka and the Easter Sunday bombings


Media playback is unsupported on your device

However, Mr Premadasa has more regularly focused on social issues, promising to eradicate poverty and improve housing.

Like his rival, he already has a loyal support base. The son of a president who was assassinated by Tamil Tiger rebels in 1993, he is the current housing minister and has managed to take on the Rajapaksa family in their own region.

Big choice for voters

Yogita Limaye, BBC News in Colombo

The ballot paper is the longest it has ever been in the country’s history – 35 names. That’s why the period for voting has been extended by an hour.

I met voters coming out of a Colombo polling station, their fingers inked after they cast their vote. Shahini Liyanagama, a first-time voter, said the Easter Sunday bombings weighed heavily on her mind.

“It was the first time I thought I could die, because one of the attacks was very close to my home. I think my country is very unstable at the moment, so I want that to change,” she told me. Mohommad Farouk Mohodin, a senior citizen, said he voted for a “new line of thinking”.

Many Sri Lankans believe the current government has failed to protect them, which is the big challenge for ruling party candidate Sajith Premadasa.

In the country’s north where Tamil minorities live, there is the fear that Gotabaya Rajapaksa could win.

He is accused of human rights violations against Tamils. Kanagasabai Ratnasingham, 82, believes Mr Rajapaksa was behind the disappearance of his son in 2006. “If he comes to power, it will be dangerous for us,” he told me.

Mr Rajapaksa has always denied the allegations against him and among many of the Sinhalese majority, he is seen as the strongman who ended the war.

What happened to the current president?

Maithripala Sirisena swept to power in a surprise victory against Mr Rajapaksa in 2015.

But he has decided not to try for a second term, with no explanation forthcoming.

However, he is increasingly unpopular with Sri Lankans. Evidence he may have disregarded intelligence about the Easter Sunday bombings came hot on the heels of a constitutional crisis sparked by Mr Sirisena sacking his own prime minister.


Media playback is unsupported on your device

And then there were a number of bizarre rants – about the cashew nuts on board Sri Lanka’s national carrier, for example, and about the organisers of a gig by Spanish pop star Enrique Iglesias, whom Mr Sirisena said should be whipped.

But what do voters care about?

National security was arguably the biggest issue. However, equality for minorities and unemployment also played on voters’ minds.

A Sri Lankan woman holds up her inked finger after casting her ballot at a polling station in Colombo on August 17, 2015


Sri Lanka’s presidential election

  • 16 millionSri Lankans eligible to vote

  • 35Number of candidates vying for the top job

  • Two footLength of ballot paper

  • 74.32%Average turnout at previous votes


But the two candidates also promised something different on the international stage. Mr Rajapaksa said he planned to “restore relations” with Sri Lanka’s top lender, China, if he wins the election. This may have been controversial in some circles, due to concerns over the size of Sri Lankan debt to the Asian superpower.

Mr Premadasa, meanwhile, was seen as leaning more towards India and the US.

When will we know the results?

There was only one round in the election but voters could choose up to three candidates in order of preference. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the winner among the top two is determined after tallying the second preferences of voters.

Results are expected on Sunday if one candidate secures more than 50% of the vote, but flooding in three of the 22 electoral districts disrupted counting, and could delay the results.

If there is no clear winner and second preferences need to be counted, then the results will arrive on Monday.


You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Vlada danas o razrješenju Brđanina
    on 01/03/2024 at 06:20

    Vlada bi na današnjoj sjednici trebalo da razmatra predlog za razrješenje direktora Uprave policije Zorana Brđanina.

  • Netanjahu: Raste pritisak da se zaustavi rat, ali ja ću mu se oduprijeti
    on 01/03/2024 at 06:09

    Rat Izraela i Hamasa – 147. dan. Izraelski premijer Benjamin Netanjahu izjavio je da raste pritisak da se zaustavi rat u Gazi, ali je istakao da će mu se oduprijeti i da će se ofanziva u Pojasu Gaze nastaviti do potpune pobjede. Američki predsednik Džo Bajden izjavio je da je dobio oprečne izvještaje o smrtonosnom incidentu u sjevernom delu Gaze, u kojem je stradalo više od 100 osoba, i dodao da će incident zakomplikovati pregovore o prekidu vatre između Izraela i Hamasa. Huti su upozorili da će svojim neprijateljima prirediti "iznenađenja" tokom akcija u Crvenom moru.  

  • Najviše dolazili turisti iz Rusije, Srbije i BiH
    on 01/03/2024 at 06:01

    U Crnoj Gori je tokom prošle godine ostvareno 2.613,306 dolazaka turista i 16.389,279 noćenja, podaci su Monstata. Najviše noćenja imali su turisti iz Rusije, najmanje iz Turske.

  • Nosioci opasnih virusa se "primiču", potrebna hitna reakcija
    on 01/03/2024 at 05:51

    Virusi poput Zike, Denge, Zapadnog Nila, oni koji izazivaju meningitis, hemoragičnu groznicu, kao i paraziti koji izazivaju recimo malariju, mnogo su bliži nego što smo toga svjesni. Prema riječima docenta na Biotehničkom fakultetu Univerziteta Crne Gore Igora Pajovića, klimatske promjene, blage zime, kao i sve veći promet robe i putovanja ljudi, povećavaju mogućnost za kretanje i neželjenih organizama, prije svih insekata, koji su prenosioci opasnih bolesti. Pojava vektora (organizama koji su nosioci patogena) na našem području je sve veća, a prema ocjeni Pajovića, reakcija donosioca odluka i državnih organa, kaže, mora biti udružena i bez čekanja.

  • Trgovina ljudima i dalje problem Crne Gore
    on 01/03/2024 at 05:42

    Posljednji izvještaj američke organizacije "Fridom Haus" pokazao je da ilegalni putevi trgovine ljudima ne zaobilaze našu državu i da su crnogorske kriminalne grupe uključene u te međunarodne kriminalne poslove.

  • Promjenljivo oblačno , moguća i kiša
    on 01/03/2024 at 05:30

    U Crnoj Gori danas će biti promjenljivo oblačno, a moguća je i kiša.

  • Tužili Gugl zbog gubitaka u digitalnom oglašavanju
    on 29/02/2024 at 21:56

    Evropske medijske grupe tužile su danas Gugl zahtijevajući da plati kaznu od 2,1 milijardu eura, jer su pretrpjele gubitke zbog načina na koji ta kompanija digitalno oglašava.

  • Lažna dojava o bombi u avionu Air Montenegra
    on 29/02/2024 at 21:53

    Zbog lažne dojave o bombi na jednom od aviona Air Montenegra, saobraćaj na aerodromu Beograd bio je obustavljen.

  • Požar u SAD ugrozio postrojenje za nuklearno oružje
    on 29/02/2024 at 21:42

    Većina osoblja jednog postrojenja za nuklearno oružje u SAD bila je preventivno evakuisana zbog približavanja velikog poljskog požara.

  • Pogrebna služba odbija da prenese tijelo Navaljnog do crkve radi oproštaja
    on 29/02/2024 at 21:28

    Tim ruskog opozicionara Alekseja Navaljnog koji je umro ranije ovog mjeseca u arktičkom zatvoru sapoštio je da pogrebno preduzeće odbija da prenese njegovo tijelo do crkve gdje je za sjutra predviđena crkvena služba.

  • Vlada danas o razrješenju Brđanina?
    on 01/03/2024 at 06:20

    Vlada bi na današnjoj sjednici trebalo da razmatra predlog za razrješenje direktora Uprave policije Zorana Brđanina.

  • "Vlast u Podgorici stabilna"
    on 29/02/2024 at 20:27

    Skupštinski odbor PES-a u Podgorici nije imao sastanak više od godinu dana, a nije postojala ni najava da će dio članova napustiti stranku, kazao je za Gradsku RTV član predsjedništva Pokreta Evropa sad, Boris Pejović. Ističe da je raspuštanje podgoričkog odbora bio logičan slijed događaja nakon ostavke Jakova Milatovića, te dodaje da vlast kako u Podgorici tako i na nivou države nije ugrožena.

  • Grubač: Vlada nije poljuljana
    on 29/02/2024 at 20:25

    Stabilnost Vlade nije poljuljana aktuelnostima i događajima u Pokretu Evropa sad, ocijenili su sagovornici emisije "Argumenti" koja se večeras emitovala na TVCG.

  • Milatović: Nijesam želio da dajem legitimitet odlukama protivnim principima PES-a
    on 29/02/2024 at 19:47

    Predsjednik Crne Gore Jakov Milatović kazao je da je ostavku na funkcije u Pokretu Evropa sad (PES) podnio jer nije želio da više, kako je rekao, daje legitimitet odlukama koje su protivne principima i načelima stranke.

  • “Vlada bojkotom prijema ambasade Kosova plaća cijenu Mandićeve podrške”
    on 29/02/2024 at 19:39

    Činjenica da se na sinoć održanom prijemu povodom šesnaest godina od sticanja nezavisnosti Republike Kosovo, a u organizaciji ambasade ove države u Podgorici, nije pojavio niko od najviših zvaničnika države Crne Gore, najnoviji je diplomatski gaf aktuelne vlasti i parlamentarne većine, navela je poslanica DPS-a Aleksandra Vuković Kuč.  

  • Jednoglasno i odlučno uz Pokret i njegove ciljeve
    on 29/02/2024 at 19:05

    Na sastanku inicijalnog odbora Pokreta Evropa sad (PES) koji je održan sinoć u Andrijevici, jednoglasno je donijeta odluka da se pruži podrška premijeru Spajiću i nastavku realizacije programa Evropa Sad 2, koja je započeta uvećanjem minimalnih penzija.

  • "Članovi Vlade se ponašaju kao taoci NSD"
    on 29/02/2024 at 17:28

    Ćutanje Vlade i MVP na protesnu notu BiH povodom pokušaja Andrije Mandića i Milorada Dodika da ponize ovu nama prijateljsku susjednu državu, predstavlja sramotu i odsustvo političkog integriteta, prije svega PES, partije koja čini osovinu ove vlade, saopštili su iz Demokratske partije socijalista (DPS).

  • Jednoglasna podrška za nastavak procesa koje je započela 44. Vlada
    on 29/02/2024 at 17:17

    Inicijalni odbor Pokreta Evropa sad u Nikšiću pruža jednoglasnu podršku premijeru, Vladi, poslaničkom klubu i parlamentarnoj većini, da nastave sve procese započete nakon formiranja 44. Vlade Crne Gore, istakli su u ovom odboru.

  • "Mandić da se vrati u okvir koalicionog sporazuma"
    on 29/02/2024 at 17:09

    Predsjednik Skupštine Crne Gore Andrija Mandić treba da se vrati u okvir koalicionog sporazuma, kako ne bi doveo do usporavanja dobro započetog posla na ispunjavanju obaveza prema EU partnerima, kazao je poslanik Pokreta Evropa sad Seid Hadžić.

  • Đurović: Prošla godina rekordna za crnogorski turizam
    on 29/02/2024 at 15:56

    Kao što smo najavljivali i planirali, 2023. godina je rekordna za crnogorski turizam po svim parametrima, saopštio je potpredsjednik Građanskog pokreta URA i ministar ekonomskog razvoja i turizma u 43. Vladi Goran Đurović.

  • Najviše dolazili turisti iz Rusije, Srbije i BiH
    on 01/03/2024 at 06:01

    U Crnoj Gori je tokom prošle godine ostvareno 2.613,306 dolazaka turista i 16.389,279 noćenja, podaci su Monstata. Najviše noćenja imali su turisti iz Rusije, najmanje iz Turske.

  • Spoljnotrgovinska razmjena u januaru 260,8 miliona
    on 29/02/2024 at 14:35

    Ukupna spoljnotrgovinska robna razmjena Crne Gore u januaru je, prema preliminarnim podacima Monstata, iznosila 260,8 miliona eura, što je 13,8 odsto manje u odnosu na isti period prošle godine.

  • Pomorstvo snažnije razvijati na principima održivosti
    on 29/02/2024 at 14:16

    Ministarstvo saobraćaja i pomorstva ostaje posvećeno razvoju sektora pomorstva i postizanju strateških ciljeva koji su definisani Strategijom razvoja pomorske privrede, poručio je ministar saobraćaja i pomorstva Filip Radulović, na sastanku sa direktorom Uprave pomorske sigurnosti i upravljanja lukama, Harisom Husićem.

  • Članstvo u EU do 2028, velike infrastrukturne projekte završiti do 2030.
    on 29/02/2024 at 11:46

    Predsjednik Vlade Milojko Spajić dao je intervju sa Financial Times u kome je najavio da Crna Gora nastoji da ostvari članstvo u Evropskoj uniji do 2028. godine te najavio brojne infrastrukturne projekte čija se realizacija očekuje do 2030. godine.

  • EPCG traži članove Odbora direktora CEDIS-a, Rudnika, Željezare i Solar gradnje
    on 29/02/2024 at 10:49

    Elektroprivreda Crne Gore (EPCG) raspisala je konkurs za izbor članova Odbora direktora (OD) Crnogorskog elektrodistributivnog sistema (CEDIS), Rudnika uglja Pljevlja, EPCG Željezare Nikšić i EPCG Solar gradnje.

  • Varheji: Plan rasta može da udvostruči ekonomije Z. Balkana
    on 29/02/2024 at 10:21

    Evropski komesar za proširenje Oliver Varheji izjavio je danas u Tirani da je Plan rasta za Zapadni Balkan ambiciozan, te da bi njime zemlje u regionu utrostručile svoje ekonomije u narednih 10 godina.

  • Uskladili regulativu u oblasti platnog prometa sa pravnom tekovinom EU
    on 29/02/2024 at 10:06

    Centralna banka (CBCG) je u potpunosti uskladila svoju regulativu u oblasti platnog prometa sa pravnom tekovinom Evropske unije (EU), saopštila je guvernerksa vrhovne monetarne institucije, Irena Radović.

  • Ograničavanjem marži bez posla bi ostalo 2.500 radnika
    on 29/02/2024 at 08:42

    Oko 450 malih i srednjih preduzeća ne bi mogla da opstanu, ukoliko bi se usvojila najava Ministarstva ekonomskog razvoja da se ograniče trgovačke marže za gotovo pet hiljada proizvoda, kaže Željko Ćetković, predsjednik Udruženja malih trgovina.

  • Investicije u elektronske komunikacije skoro 11 odsto veće
    on 28/02/2024 at 21:28

    Operatori elektronskih komunikacija u Crnoj Gori prošle godine su u razvoj elektronskih komunikacionih mreža i usluga uložili 76,3 miliona eura, što je 10,75 odsto više nego 2022. godine, saopšteno je iz Agencije za elektronske komunikacije i poštansku djelatnost (EKIP).

  • Bitkoin prešao 60.000 dolara
    on 28/02/2024 at 18:29

    Vrijednost bitkoina prešla je 60.000 dolara prvi put od novembra 2021. godine, nakon višemjesečnog rasta koji se uglavnom pripisuje odobrenju 11 fondova da ulažu u tu kriptovalutu.