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Rajpaksas rule the roost as Lanka opposition decimated in elections
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 07 - 08 - 2020

The party of Sri Lanka's ruling Rajapaksa brothers registered a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections on Wednesday, decimating the splintered opposition.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) won 146 out of a 225-member house, according to results released early Friday. At least five of the seats were also won by the allies.
The brothers needed 150 seats in Parliament to be able to change the constitution. However, analysts say any attempt by Gotabaya to push for changes that will strengthen presidential power at the expense of those of the prime minister may trigger sibling rivalry.
The emphatic victory of the SLPP saw former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's party reduced to just one seat with the ex-premier losing his own seat. Wickremesinghe's had 106 seats.
According to official results, the SLPP got 6.8 million of the popular vote. Just over 70 percent of the 16.2 million electorates turned out to vote on Wednesday.
Even as results were coming in, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the prime minister's younger brother, said on Twitter that "results so far indicate an excellent victory for the SLPP."
SLPP stalwart Udaya Gammanpila said the victory was far greater than anticipated.
"We expected a win, a spectacular win, but not this big a victory," Gammanpila said.
The Rajapaksa family has dominated Sri Lankan politics for the past two decades. Mahinda was president from 2005 to 2015.
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephone Mahinda Rajapaksa to congratulate him before the party even had a formal majority.
In a statement on Twitter, the prime minister said he looked forward to working "closely" with Modi and added that the two countries are "friends and relations".
The election was originally scheduled for April, but it was twice postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sri Lanka has largely contained the spread of the virus with 2,839 confirmed cases, including 11 deaths. — Agencies


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