Sri Lanka presidential poll ends amid eligibility row

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Sri Lanka presidential poll ends amid eligibility row

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Voting is over in Sri Lanka’s first peacetime presidential election in nearly three decades.

But the contest between Mahinda Rajapaksa and the ally turned rival hoping to replace him in the top job could now go to the courts.

Sri Lanka’s government is challenging the legitimacy of leading opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka. It says the former army chief is not eligible to stand because his name is not on the electoral register, meaning he was unable to vote.

Questions over the validity of Fonseka’s candidacy could spark fury among his supporters, turning their premature victory celebrations into angry protests.

Polling was mostly peaceful with a turnout of 70 to 80 percent.

Both frontrunners were key figures in the defeat of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels last May after more than a quarter of a century of civil war. But they fell out soon afterwards.

The independent Electoral Commission has backed Fonseka’s candidacy despite his absence from the electoral roll.

Results are due tomorrow.