South Asia

Rajapaksa-led coalition retains key provinces

The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, retained the country’s Western and Southern provinces after the provincial council elections held on Saturday.

In the Western Province — covering Colombo, Gampaha and Kaluthara districts — the UPFA secured 53.35 per cent of the votes, cornering 56 seats, including two bonus seats that the party securing highest share of votes gets as per Sri Lanka’s Proportional representation system.

The United National Party (UNP), the main Opposition led by the former Prime Minister, Ranil Wikramasinghe, received 26.59 per cent of the votes, securing 28 seats.

Coming third in the race was former Sri Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party, which secured about 8 per cent of the votes, winning nine seats.

In the Southern Province — including Galle, Matara and Hambantota districts that are considered the Sinhala heartland here — the UPFA secured 58.06 per cent of the votes, while the UNP got 25.77 per cent.

The UNP’s performance also puts in focus questions about its future as Opposition, particularly in the context of the presidential elections here, which is scheduled for 2016.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) or the People’s Liberation Front, which recently saw a leadership change, received 9.05 per cent of the total voted polled in the Province.

The Democratic Party received 6.27 per cent of the votes here, winning three seats.

President Rajapaksa had, over the last few weeks, been campaigning intensely for the provincial elections that were held a day after 23 countries voted in favour of the U.S.-backed resolution calling for an international probe in Sri Lanka.

Much of the campaign rhetoric adopted by the ruling coalition, as reported in the local media here, was pegged to Geneva, about the West’s alleged conspiracy for regime change.

“Those who cannot tolerate the country’s growth after the eradication of terrorism are trying to take me to the electric chair,” President Rajapaksa had said on more than one occasion.

At the moment, the UPFA rules eight of the nine provinces in Sri Lanka, with the exception of the Northern Province where elections were held for the first time in September.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which won the polls with a thumping majority, rules the province.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 9:18:06 PM |

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