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A record 35 candidates filed nominations Monday for next month’s Sri Lankan presidential election, but the incumbent has opted not to seek a second term with the entry of former defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is considered the favourite.

Rajapaksa, who served as defence chief under his brother and then-president Mahinda Rajapaksa, is popular for his part in ending Sri Lanka’s long civil war a decade ago. President Maithripala Sirisena, who likely would have had difficulty beating Rajapaksa, did not pay a mandatory deposit by a Sunday deadline and became ineligible to file a nomination. Rajapaksa represents a breakaway party of Sirisena’s and has the loyalty of a majority from Sirisena’s party. His main rival will be Sajith Premadasa from the governing coalition.

The 35 candidates are the most to contest a presidential election in the Indian Ocean island nation. The previous high was 22 candidates in 2010.

Among the presidential candidates are two Buddhist monks, four people from the minority Muslim community and two from the Tamil community. There is only one female candidate.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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