Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse greets supporters during his election campaign rally in Colombo on December 24, 2014. (Associated Press photo)
Hambantota, Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka's Mahinda Rajapakse said he was confident he would be returned to power as he cast his ballot in presidential elections on Thursday.
The president, who is running for an unprecedented third term after changing the constitution, promised a peaceful post-election period and said his opponents would be protected.
"We will have a resounding victory. That is very clear. From tomorrow, we will start implementing our manifesto," he told reporters in his constituency in Hambantota in the south of the island.
Rajapakse faces a strong challenge from Maithripala Sirisena, who defected from his government to stand as the main opposition candidate.
The closely fought campaign has been marred by violence, and top US diplomat John Kerry this week urged Rajapakse to ensure the election was peaceful and credible.