Sri Lanka’s ex-military chief says will run for presidency

November 28, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s ex-military chief has said he plans to run for the presidency in January elections in a bid to unseat his former boss Mahinda Rajapakse. Meanwhile, a group of opposition parties met elections commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake late Friday after he formally announced the date of the presidential poll, an opposition lawmaker told AFP.

“We asked the elections commissioner for international monitors for the elections,” the legislature member, who asked to remain anonymous, said Saturday.

The member quoted the commissioner as telling the parties, led by the main opposition United National Party, he “hoped to invite” international monitors from the Commonwealth, the United Nations and Asia.

International monitors have acted as observers in previous elections in Sri Lanka that have been marred by opposition allegations of vote-rigging and intimidation.

The elections commissioner could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Rajapakse narrowly won the 2005 poll for a six-year term with 50.12 percent of the vote by defeating the main opposition candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Wickremesinghe is not contesting