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Sri Lankan president and 18 others hand in nomination papers for Jan. 8 presidential election

  • Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa waves to supporters as he arrives to hand over nomination papers in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Rajapaksa and his former health minister Maithripala Sirisena were among 19 people Monday to hand in nominations to contest the island's presidential election next month. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa waves to supporters as he arrives to hand over nomination papers in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Rajapaksa and his former health minister Maithripala Sirisena were among 19 people Monday to hand in nominations to contest the island's presidential election next month. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Sri Lankan presidential candidate of the common opposition Maithripala Sirisena, center wearing spectacles, is surrounded by his supporters as he leaves after filing his nomination papers, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his former health minister Sirisena were among 19 people Monday to hand in nominations to contest the island's presidential election next month. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Sri Lankan presidential candidate of the common opposition Maithripala Sirisena, center wearing spectacles, is surrounded by his supporters as he leaves after filing his nomination papers, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his former health minister Sirisena were among 19 people Monday to hand in nominations to contest the island's presidential election next month. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

  • Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa displays the victory sign after filing his nomination in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Rajapaksa and his former health minister Maithripala Sirisena were among 19 people Monday to hand in nominations to contest the island's presidential election next month. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

    Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa displays the victory sign after filing his nomination in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Rajapaksa and his former health minister Maithripala Sirisena were among 19 people Monday to hand in nominations to contest the island's presidential election next month. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)  (The Associated Press)

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his former health minister are among 19 people to hand in their nominations to contest a presidential election next month.

The papers from the 19 were handed in Monday to Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya.

Rajapaksa has called an election to seek an unprecedented third term, two years before his second term ends. His former health minister and party No. 2, Maithripala Sirisena, has become his main challenger and he is now being backed by the main opposition United National Party.

The election is Jan. 8.