Sri Lanka PM wins party nomination for presidency

Sri Lanka’s ruling party has chosen Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse as its candidate for the presidency amid a deepening controversy over when the poll should be held, party sources said Wednesday. Sri Lanka’s ruling party has chosen Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse as its candidate for the presidency amid a deepening controversy over when the poll should be held, party sources said Wednesday. Rajapakse, 59, was nominated to lead the People’s Alliance at the next presidential election, with President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s brother Anura Bandaranaike as his running mate, a top party official said.

The move came as the main opposition United National Party (UNP) insisted the presidential election must be held by December this year, while the incumbent insists that a vote is not due until the end of next year.

Kumaratunga, first elected in November 1994, called a snap election in December 1999, a year before her first six-year term ended.

She was sworn in for her second and final six-year term in December 1999, but she has said that her term ends in December 2006, a claim hotly disputed by the opposition.

Constitutional experts say the matter could end up in Sri Lanka’s supreme