NAME: Maithripala Sirisena (pronounced my-three-PA'-la si-ri-SAY'-na)
AGE-BIRTHPLACE: 63. Born in the village of Yagoda, north of Colombo, but moved in the 1950s with his family to the farming district of Polonnaruwa under a government agriculture development project.
ETHNICITY: From the country's majority Buddhist Sinhala group.
FAMILY: Married, 2 grown daughters and 1 son.
EDUCATION: Diploma in Agriculture, School of Agriculture, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 1973. Diploma in Political Science, Maxim Gorky Academy, Moscow, Russia, 1980.
EXPERIENCE: An agriculturalist by training, Sirisena's first job was as the purchasing officer for Polonnaruwa District's cooperative business society in 1974. He became a village official in 1976, and joined politics full time in 1978. He was first elected to parliament in 1989, and has served as a senior Cabinet minister in the outgoing President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government. Most recently, he was health minister and was second-in-command in Rajapaksa's Freedom Party until he resigned in late November to run for the presidency.
POLITICS: A self-described socialist, Sirisena has railed against corruption, abuse of power and nepotism in the Rajapaksa government. He has also vowed to hold an independent, domestic investigation into Sri Lanka's 25-year civil war against ethnic Tamil rebels — a demand by the international community that Rajapaksa refused.