The others in the race

Apart from President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Opposition Common Candidate Sarath Fonseka, ten others are also in the race for presidency. Some are well known names in the country’s political arena while others have remained obscure till now. Here are views expressed by some of these candidates who are likely to end up as “also rans” in the 2010 presidential election.

Dr. Wickremabahu Karunaratna: Left Front (symbol table)

This is the first time I am contesting a presidential election though since 1988, I have been contesting elections at municipal, provincial and parliamentary levels.

I believe both the main candidates represent racist, chauvinistic parties and are agents of foreign powers. I want to bring about reconciliation among all communities. I will be campaigning all over the country including the north and east and several Tamil MPs too have said they will support my campaign.

Siritunga Jayasuriya: United Socialist Party (symbol trishaw)

I contested the last presidential election. This time there is an even more urgent need for me to contest. Both the main candidates have taken their election campaigning to a low level and are not addressing any of the socio-economic issues that affect the people of this country.

Instead both camps are engaged in a debate to apportion blame on each other on who took more commission from weapons purchases. They are also arguing over who should get more credit for the war victory, who killed Lasantha Wickrematunga and who carried out the “white van” abductions.

Battaramulle Seelaratne Thera: ana Setha Peramuna (symbol tractor)

I have contested the Eastern and North Western Provincial Council elections. I come from a poverty stricken background. JHU members who are in parliament have done virtually nothing to alleviate the suffering of the poor. I am not in agreement with the monks who have refused to tie a “pirth noola” for General Fonseka.

We as Buddhists monks must be compassionate to one and all and bless people irrespective of their race, religion or other affiliations. The country must be grateful to President Mahinda Rajapaksa for eliminating terrorism .We must remember that the majority of war heroes are from poor families and I wish to speak on their behalf and improve their living conditions.

Sarath Manamendra: Nawa Sihala Urumaya (Symbol Bow & Arrow)

This is the first presidential election I am contesting and my campaign will address several important issues that affect the people. We need radical reforms in areas such as education and economy.

Today the education system is so corrupted that from Grade One parents and students have to lie to get admission into big schools. Also the conduct of government exams must be done in a manner that children can excel in areas that they chose.

We must also break free from our overdependence on imports. I served in the Sri Lanka Air Force for ten years and I know we have young men who are capable of building an aeroplane. We have to help such talented persons.

M.B. Thaminimulla: Okkoma Wasiyo, Okkama Rajawaru Sanvidanaya (symbol Till)

People use their valuable vote and elect a person into office. But after the election, the candidate who wins rules over them like a king.

Our party will allow the people to vote themselves into power so that they will be the real rulers of the country.

The policies of the party are meant to entrust power to the hands of the people so instead of being governed they themselves can become governors.

Dr.I.M. Illiyas: Independent candidate

I was the MP for Jaffna district from 1994-2000. I was also a member of the North Western Provincial Council and a DDC member.

There is no candidate to speak on behalf of the minorities in this election. My main objective is to educate the voters that they have three preferential votes. People can vote for President Mahinda Rajapaksa, General Sarath Fonseka and also for a third candidate.

We hope to use our preference vote as a bargaining chip to win the rights of the minorities. I am sure of getting the votes of Jaffna’s Tamil and Muslim population and minority people in other areas.

The other candidates who will be contesting the presidential election are Wije Dias of the Socialist Equality Party, Peter Nelson Perera of the Sri Lanka Progressive Front, Achala Ashoka Suraweera of the Jathika Sanwardana Peramuna and P.D.P.S.A. Liyanage of the Sri Lanka Labour Party.

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