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COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday postponed the expected announcement of dates for early presidential and parliamentary elections due by April without giving a reason.
The delay followed the resignation on Friday of the chief of defence staff, General Sarath Fonseka, who is expected to stand against his former commander-in-chief as an opposition candidate.
Fonseka was widely credited with the army's dominant role in winning a 25-year war against Tamil Tiger rebels which ended in May. Political analysts say he could split Rajapaksa's voter base and attract those happy with the war victory.
At his Sri Lanka Freedom Party's annual convention, Rajapaksa, said only that he would decide "in due course" after more than 100,000 party stalwarts urged him to call the presidential poll first.
The government had said he would announce the dates at the convention.
Analysts say the move for early polls is part of Rajapaksa's plan to win a second six-year term before his post-war popularity fades over issues such as the cost of living, public wage rises and labour unrest.
(Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Bryson Hull)