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Sri Lanka’s former president seeks snap elections after big win in local polls

Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition suffered a huge defeat in local elections held on February 10.


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Updated: February 16, 2018

Sri Lanka’s former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called on President Maithripala Sirisena to dissolve Parliament immediately and hold a
general election to end the current political instability.

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) – the party backed by Rajapaksa – registered a landslide victory. After the final results, the SLPP had
won 44.65 percent of the vote.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) secured 32.63 percent, while Sirisena’s United People’s Freedom
Alliance (UPFA) finished third with 8.94 percent of the vote.

This was the first local elections since the centre-left UPFA and centre-right UNP parties formed a unity government in August 2015.

Addressing a special media briefing at the SLPP headquarters, Rajapaksa said the government had no moral right to be in power as it was clear that people were no longer with it and they had rejected its economic policies as well, the Island reported.

Sri Lanka’s last presidential and parliamentary elections were held in January and August 2015 and, therefore, a national election is not
due until 2020. However, according to the Constitution, President Sirisena can dissolve Parliament following a resolution in the House, endorsed by a two-thirds majority.

A civil war in the country raged intermittently between 1983 and 2009 – fuelled in part by tensions between the ethnic majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils.

Over 1,00,000 Sri Lankans were driven out of the country as part of the anti-Tamil pogrom in the early 1980s. These refugees continue to live in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu with their state of homelessness lost on most.

The violence that started in 1983 ended in May 2009 when the government forces seized the last area controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels. The fight against the government was led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a militant organization founded by V Prabhakaran that sought to create an independent Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka.



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About the Author: Lamat R Hasan is an independent journalist based in New Delhi.

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