Following local Sri Lankan elections, former-President Mahinda Rajapaksa demanded on February 12 that the country hold snap general elections and dissolve Parliament.
Rajapaksa’s request came after his political party, the Sri Lanka People’s Front, won nearly 45 percent of the vote during the February 11 election. During the election, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe’s United National Party (UNP) won around 32 percent of the vote, and President Maithripala Sirisena’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won around nine percent.
The outcome of the elections surprised many political analysts. However, experts predict that it represents the conflict between Sirisena’s center-left UPFA and Wickremsinghe’s center-right UNP, which entered a coalition government after the 2015 election.
Rajapaksa’s party won local elections largely in the north and east of the country, regions significantly impacted by ethnic tensions between the Sinhalese and Tamilians. During the local elections, he focused on opposing inflation, a tax hike, and the privatization of government assets. He was supported largely by Sinhalese Buddhists.
During his time as president, Rajapaksa played a large role in suppressing Tamil rebels. Opponents also accused him of perceived corruption and nepotism.
Since the recent local elections, some members of parliament (MPs) threatened to quit if Wickremsinghe does not quit his position, as MPs from Wickremsinghe’s party and Sirisena’s party have disputed who is to blame for lack of success at the elections.
However, Wickremsinghe stated that he will remain in his position though he will reshuffle his cabinet.
It remains to be seen what sort of understanding, if any, Sri Lankan political parties will come to.