Colombo: The results of Sri Lanka's presidential election will be announced on Sunday (November 17) as counting of votes is underway in an election that was marred by incidents of violence that left several people injured.

The winning candidate must secure over 50% of the votes before being declared as the president.

According to the local media, Rajapaksa, the main opposition candidate, was leading with 52.87% while housing minister Sajith Premadasa had 39.67% out of half a million votes counted.

According to Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka), Sajith Premadasa took an early lead in a fiercely fought presidential election. Premadasa, belonging to the United National Party (UNP) or the main ruling party in the country, was leading with 50.52% votes, while former wartime defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had 41.97% out of half a million votes counted.

The election is the first incumbency test of the UNP-led government since the April 21 suicide bomb attacks that killed at least 269 people and were blamed on local Islamist terror groups.

The government had faced severe criticism for failing to prevent the attacks despite prior warnings.

The six-week campaign in a neck-and-neck race has seen tensions mount across Sri Lanka, with the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) documenting at least 743 electoral violations, including at least 45 cases of assaults or threats.

The alleged violations are split relatively equally between the two leading parties, Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka People's Front (SLPP) and Premadasa's UNP, Al Jazeera quoted the CMEV data as showing.

Sirisena's term was also marred by a failed attempt to remove Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe from the office, that sparked a constitutional crisis that even when resolved by the Supreme Court (which restored Wickremesinghe to his position) left a government essentially cleaved in two, CNN reported.