On Tuesday, January 26, the people of Sri Lanka will elect a new president for the state. A new chapter could be ushered in as the island nation congratulates itself on a year that was momentous in many ways, not least because 2009 spelled the end of the civil war.
The Sri Lankan army defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) last May, marking the end of a conflict that first reared its ugly head in 1983. The war, fought by the LTTE for a separate homeland for the Tamil minority, has cost the lives of more than 70,000 people.

The election front-runners are the current president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is seeking a second term in office and is credited with bringing the war to an end, as well as his former army commander General Sarath Fonseka, who survived a failed suicide bomb attempt by the LTTE in 2006. The general is regarded as a national hero for leading the army to victory.

The elections will be the first time the nation heads for the ballot boxes since the end of the war. They give a prime opportunity for the candidates to prove their commitment to concrete progress toward national reconciliation and political resolution of Tamil demands for greater rights and power.

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