Sri Lanka’s opposition unites to face snap polls

November 3, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s main opposition on Tuesday formed an alliance with minority Tamil and Muslim parties and a breakaway faction of the ruling coalition to contest possible snap elections. The next presidential poll, which was due by November 2011, will now be held before April 2010, according to the government. Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said his United National Party had set up the United National Front (UNF) to press for the scrapping of the executive presidential system and for a return to parliamentary democracy.

The government announced last month that it would hold early presidential and parliamentary elections as the ruling party moved to gain from strong public support after its defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels earlier this year.

President Mahinda Rajapakse narrowly won the November 2005 presidential election on a pledge to abolish the presidency, but has since vowed he wants to contest for a second term.