Sri Lanka presidential election date is set

Sri Lanka presidential polls are set on Nov. 17, the island's elections secretariat said on Monday, a poll analysts say revolves around two key issues: how to cement peace with Tamil Tiger rebels and manage the economy.

"The election is on Nov. 17," A. De. Silva, assistant to Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake, told Reuters. He said the commission would invite formal nominations of candidates by October 17.

Left-of-centre Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse is set to face off against his right-of-centre predecessor, Ranil Wickremesinghe, in a vote seen as too close to call.

Rajapakse, who is popular with the Sinhalese Buddhist majority and has aligned himself with hard-line Marxists and monks who detest the Tigers, is fervently against privatization and has vowed to nurture local business to take on foreign competitors, reports Reuters.

An election commission official said candidates' nominations must be submitted by 7 October.

The current Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapakse, has secured the pre-poll backing of the Sinhala nationalist JVP by agreeing to review a ceasefire with the Tamil Tiger rebels and put an end to privatization.

But Ms Kumaratunga, who leads Mr Rajapakse's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SFLP), has said she opposes his pact with the JVP.

The JVP has attacked Ms Kumaratunga for agreeing to share tsunami aid with the Tamil rebels and for proposing a federal solution to the rebels' demands for autonomy.

Mr Rajapakse's challenger, Mr Wickramasinghe, has pledged to revive the peace deal with the Tamil rebels and restore investors' faith in the economy, informs BBC.

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