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Sri Lanka polls: Rajapaksas’ SLPP secures big win

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Sri Lanka’s ruling party has won the recently held parliamentary elections, securing a huge majority of 145 seats, just five short of a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

The Rajapaksas’ Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP or People’s Party) was widely expected to win the polls that came nine months after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa rose to power. His elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who led the caretaker government as Premier, will be sworn in as Prime Minister.

The SLPP sought a two-thirds mandate in the polls to amend the Constitution, especially a 2015 legislation – the 19th Amendment passed during the former government’s term – that trims the President’s executive powers. Expressing confidence on polling day, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa said that their party would garner a two-thirds majority in Parliament, even if not in polls.

Also Read: Rajapaksa brothers take early lead in Sri Lanka vote count

In addition to paving way for the Rajapaksas to consolidate power, Wednesday’s elections saw the virtual exit of the historic United National Party (UNP) from the legislature. The party won one seat. Its leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was in parliament for over 40 years, lost his seat.

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), led by Sajith Premadasa who broke away from the UNP, secured 54 seats at its distant second spot in the race.

Reaching out early, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday evening wished Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa on his party’s impressive performance in the polls that Sri Lanka conducted peacefully, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tamil National Alliance, the main party representing Tamils of the north and east in the last Parliament, suffered a setback with its seats reduced to 10 this election.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has summoned the new Parliament to meet on August 20.