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Sri Lanka prepares for crucial poll

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Sri Lanka prepares for crucial poll


Election fever is gripping Sri Lanka, with President Mahinda Rajapaksa pulling out all the stops to try to win a second term.

The election takes place on Tuesday, the first national poll since a 25-year war with the Tamil Tiger separatists ended last May.

However, the president is facing an unexpectedly strong challenge from an army general who helped in the defeat of the rebels, General Sarath Fonseka.

The two leading candidates are former allies.

This has also turned into a violent contest. Since election campaigning begun more than 800 acts of violence have been reported, with at least four deaths.

Observers say both Rajapaksa and Fonseka can lay claim to the victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels.

But Western diplomats warn that both could be implicated in potential war crimes inquiries. There has been controversy about the thousands of civilians killed in the final months of the war.

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