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By Shihar Aneez COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's August elections have been timed to stop a comeback by war-time president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who remarkably may see his popularity rise in coming months if criticized for war crimes in a U.N report, said government sources. Rajapaksa's crushing of a 26-year Tamil Tiger insurgency in 2009 won him support among the country's Sinhalese majority and he still has a very strong following. A U.N. report on the last days of the war is due for release in September but an aide to President Maithripala Sirisena said diplomatic sources had warned it may be leaked in late August. The possibility of an early release prompted Sirisena to call elections for Aug. 17 to give his ally Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe an edge and hopefully deny Rajapaksa any chance of a political resurgence, said sources close to Sirisena.