Sri Lanka’s former PM struggles to claim presidential prize

The frontrunner in Sri Lanka’s presidential vote, Ranil Wickremesinghe, claims credit for freezing a decades-long ethnic war but that has not translated into deep support among the Sinhalese majority crucial to victory. The frontrunner in Sri Lanka’s presidential vote, Ranil Wickremesinghe, claims credit for freezing a decades-long ethnic war but that has not translated into deep support among the Sinhalese majority crucial to victory. Wickremesinghe, the 56-year-old former prime minister, has told voters he is the “peace candidate” and promised to secure a permanent deal with Tamil Tiger rebels within “two to three years” if he wins Thursday’s ballot.

However, it is the early success of his peace efforts, which brought a ceasefire in an ethnic conflict that has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972, that probably led to his defeat in April 2004 elections.

In 2002, Wickremesinghe entered into a truce with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and moved quickly to reform the country’s economy.

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