Voters lined up to vote in a national election Monday that will decide whether former president Mahinda Rajapaksa can stage a comeback and how fast the country moves forward with postwar reconciliation as well as economic and political revamping. Polling stations in the Indian Ocean island nation opened at 7 a.m. for Sri Lankans to choose 225 members of Parliament. Police said voting was going smoothly and there had been no major incidents as of the middle of the day. Around 75,000 police have been dispatched to ensure nothing interfered with the poll. Mr. Rajapaksa is seeking a return to power after he was ousted in presidential elections in January. The new president, Maithripala Sirisena, and his supporters accused Mr. Rajapaksa of abusing his power and building an authoritarian regime controlled by his family, which the former president denies.
Since taking office, President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have pushed for corruption investigations and sought to promote reconciliation between the country’s Sinhalese majority and its Tamil minority after a brutal, long-running civil war.
Voters, who are treating the election like a referendum on whether they want Mr. Rajapaksa and his die-hard supporters running the country again, started arriving at voting booths in schools and temples early Monday morning. Some of the younger voters posted photos on social media showing off their fingers which had been marked with the purple indelible ink, a process used to ensure no one votes more than once.