Lanka goes to polls tomorrow

Worries about Islamic extremism will be paramount for many Sri Lankan voters while others hope to block former leaders accused of human rights violations from returning to power in Saturday's presidential election, the country's first national polls since last Easter's deadly suicide attacks.

Simply put, fear is driving the election in Sri Lanka, a South Asian island nation of 22 million people off India's southern tip. 

A decade of peace following three decades of civil war was shattered earlier this year when homegrown militants pledging loyalty to the Islamic State group detonated suicide bombs at three churches and three hotels, killing 269 people.

The election also mirrors the global trend of populist strongmen appealing to disgruntled majorities amid rising nationalism seen as well in recent elections in neighbouring India.

With a record 35 candidates vying for the presidency, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a former defense official under his brother, ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was widely expected to triumph over ruling party Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa.