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Rajapaksa demands Sri Lanka parliamentary polls after victory

ECONOMYNEXT – Former president Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday demanded a snap parliamentary election after drubbing the ruling coalition in crucial mid-term polls.

Rajapakse’s new party secured more than two-thirds of Sri Lanka’s local government bodies in a shock local election decimating the national unity government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

"The government no longer has a mandate," said Rajapakse told reporters at his proxy part, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) part at Battaramulla.  "I ask the president to call a general election."

When asked how Sirisena could dissolve parliament since he did not have such powers after the 19th amendment, Rajapaksa said the president could initiate a resolution in parliament for it to dissolve itself. Rajapaksa’s faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) would support the move.

He said Saturday’s vote was a referendum on the government’s proposed political reforms, sell off state assets and alleged insults to the security forces.

He said the people had voted against a “division of the country” allegedly envisaged in a new constitution aimed at addressing the country’s drawn out ethnic conflict.
Asked what his approach would be to the ethnic question, Rajapaksa said first he should be given power in parliament and he would thereafter unveil his proposals.

Sirisena was also elected in 2015 on a promise to reform the constitution, grant greater autonomy to minority Tamils and reconcile for a decades-long ethnic war that claimed more than 100,000 lives, but he has failed to deliver .

Parliament has been debating the proposed arrangements to share political power with Tamils but has made little ground.
(COLOMBO, February 12, 2018)

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