Election in Sri Lanka: Rajapaksa brothers win “super-majority”

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Legend
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s party hopes for a “super majority”


Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared victory in the country’s parliamentary elections.

His brother Mahinda Rajapaksa is expected to be appointed prime minister, having served as a guard since November.

The brothers’ party, the Popular Front of Sri Lanka, won a “super majority” of two-thirds of the seats needed to carry out the promised constitutional changes.

The party won 145 of 225 seats, plus five more seats from its allies.

Mahinda Rajapaksa earlier tweeted that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called to congratulate him.

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EPA

Legend

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been credited with helping contain the coronavirus outbreak in the country


The controversial Rajapaksa family has dominated Sri Lankan politics for two decades. Mahinda Rajapaksa was previously president from 2005 to 2015.

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s opposition was defeated, losing all but one of the 106 seats it held in the outgoing parliament.

The main opposition party is now a new group created by the son of Ranasinghe Premadasa, a former president assassinated in 1993.

Sri Lanka was one of the few countries to hold elections despite the coronavirus pandemic. The vote had already been postponed twice because of the virus.

The country has had relatively few confirmed infections and deaths from coronavirus – with a total of 2,839 cases and 11 deaths.

Another victory for the controversial brothers

Par Anbarasan Ethirajan, BBC South Asia Analyst

This is once again a huge victory for the Rajapaksa brothers.

Just nine months after his impressive presidential victory, Gotabaya Rajapaksa led his Sri Lankan Popular Front by a two-thirds majority.

He is extremely popular among the Sinhala majority for crushing the separatist Tamil Tigers rebels in 2009 while he was Secretary of Defense. Many in the country also credit his administration for the stability and control of the coronavirus epidemic.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa is accused of human rights violations during the civil war and also of targeting those who were dissidents. He has always rejected such accusations – but they have not gone away.

A rise in Sinhala nationalism in the run-up to the elections has also worried minority communities in Sri Lanka.

Muslim leaders say their community is still reeling from the defamation that followed the devastating Easter Sunday suicide bombings by Islamist activists last year, which killed more than 260 people.

With their dominant majority, the Rajapaksas could attempt to change the constitution, increasing the powers of the president, thus reversing the work of the previous government to introduce more checks and balances.

Activists, already alarmed by the shrinking space for dissent and criticism, fear that such an eventuality could lead to ever greater authoritarianism.

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