Sri Lankan election: in pictures

As a war-scarred nation heads to the polls, here are images from the turbulent run-up to the preside

Sri Lankans are voting in the country's first election since the Tamil Tigers were crushed. Above, a supporter at an election rally wears a swan mask. Swans are the election symbol of the former army commander and opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka.

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Supporters of the incumbent president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, attend another rally.

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An opposition activist, Tiran Alles, addresses the media from his house, damaged in a grenade attack that has been blamed on the ruling party.

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Buddhist monks pray at a "prayer of determination" ceremony.

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Sri Lankan cyclists pass an election poster in Vavuniya, north of Colombo. It is estimated that between 80,000 and 100,000 people died during the insurgency, which lasted nearly 40 years.

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Wreckage at the home of Tiran Alles, campaign manager for Sarath Fonseka.

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Rickshaws adorned with Fonseka's image.

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In Vavuniya a displaced ethnic Tamil, Sithambaram Ratnasingam, displays her passport after she was denied permission to vote today.

 

All photographs from AFP/Getty Images.

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Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Martin Sorrell: I support a second EU referendum

If the economy is not in great shape after two years, public opinion on Brexit could yet shift, says the WPP head.

On Labour’s weakness, if you take the market economy analogy, if you don’t have vigorous competitors you have a monopoly. That’s not good for prices and certainly not for competition. It breeds inefficiency, apathy, complacency, even arrogance. That applies to politics too.

A new party? Maybe, but Tom Friedman has a view that parties have outlived their purpose and with the changes that have taken place through globalisation, and will do through automation, what’s necessary is for parties not to realign but for new organisations and new structures to be developed.

Britain leaving the EU with no deal is a strong possibility. A lot of observers believe that will be the case, that it’s too complex a thing to work out within two years. To extend it beyond two years you need 27 states to approve.

The other thing one has to bear in mind is what’s going to happen to the EU over the next two years. There’s the French event to come, the German event and the possibility of an Italian event: an election or a referendum. If Le Pen was to win or if Merkel couldn’t form a government or if the Renzi and Berlusconi coalition lost out to Cinque Stelle, it might be a very different story. I think the EU could absorb a Portuguese exit or a Greek exit, or maybe even both of them exiting, I don’t think either the euro or the EU could withstand an Italian exit, which if Cinque Stelle was in control you might well see.

Whatever you think the long-term result would be, and I think the UK would grow faster inside than outside, even if Britain were to be faster outside, to get to that point is going to take a long time. The odds are there will be a period of disruption over the next two years and beyond. If we have a hard exit, which I think is the most likely outcome, it could be quite unpleasant in the short to medium term.

Personally, I do support a second referendum. Richard Branson says so, Tony Blair says so. I think the odds are diminishing all the time and with the triggering of Article 50 it will take another lurch down. But if things don’t get well over the two years, if the economy is not in great shape, maybe there will be a Brexit check at the end.

Martin Sorrell is the chairman and chief executive of WPP.

As told to George Eaton.

This article first appeared in the 30 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Wanted: an opposition