Economy and peace choices for Sri Lankans at key vote

Sri Lanka’s presidential election this week has turned into a vote on the country’s distressed economy and the troubled peace process, with the two main contenders diverging sharply on the major issues. Sri Lanka’s presidential election this week has turned into a vote on the country’s distressed economy and the troubled peace process, with the two main contenders diverging sharply on the major issues. Some 13.3 million eligible voters will effectively be choosing on Thursday between the current and former prime ministers, who have radically different views on how to save the south Asian nation from economic and ethnic implosion.

Opinion polls say the two issues have emerged as the key points of debate in the vote, largely overshadowing the destruction caused by last year’s tsunami which killed over 31,000 people in the country.

Former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says he will revive talks with Tamil Tiger guerrillas and cut a peace deal “within two to three years” to end a conflict that has killed over 60,000 people since 1972.

In contrast, current Premier Mahinda Rajapakse wants a complete overhaul of the Oslo-backed initiatives and a renegotiation of a truce that has been in pl