SRI LANKA-ELECTION-RAJAPAKSE-FILES

Kerry pushes Sri Lanka leader to hold 'free, fair' polls

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on December 8, 2014Top US diplomat John Kerry has urged Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse to ensure that Thursday’s elections are peaceful and credible, a US official said. Rajapakse, South Asia’s longest serving leader, faces an unprecedented challenge from a newly galvanized opposition as he seeks re-election, five years after his crushing military victory over Tamil Tiger guerrillas. Kerry spoke with him on Tuesday “to underscore the government’s responsibility to ensure the January 8 elections will be free from violence and intimidation,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday. Rajapakse won a landslide election victory in 2010, but critics say the 69-year-old has failed to bring about reconciliation with Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority in the years that followed.

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