The plan seemed such a simple one. Mahinda Rajapaksa called an election in November expecting to breeze past a shambolic, divided opposition and take an unprecedented third term as Sri Lanka’s president. The poll, on January 8th, would be two years earlier than necessary. It would also be the first after a constitutional amendment in 2010 that abolished a two-term limit for presidents. Everything had appeared set for Mr Rajapaksa to remain in power. Now his prospects look far less certain. The campaign has been marked by a series of defections by former allies who call him authoritarian and nepotistic (among relatives in important political jobs are a brother, Basil, who is in charge of running the economy; another brother, Gotabaya, who is defence secretary and a third, Chamal, who is parliamentary Speaker). Most striking was the exit of Maithripala Sirisena. He was both health minister in Mr Rajapaksa’s cabinet and general secretary of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). On November 21st he became the main opposition candidate. The president complains bitterly that Mr Sirisena dined with him only the night before.Full Article: Elections in Sri Lanka: Down to the wire | The Economist.
Jan 2 2015