Mahinda Rajapaksa

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Sri Lanka: Voters Reject Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Election, and Prosecution May Follow | The New York Times

Sri Lankan voters decisively rejected former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s comeback bid, election results showed on Tuesday, leaving this island nation firmly in the hands of officials intent on dismantling most of his policies and completing corruption inquiries that have been closing in on him and his family. “We have lost a good fight,” Mr. Rajapaksa told Agence France-Presse early Tuesday. The election, held peacefully on Monday with high voter turnout, determined the makeup of Sri Lanka’s 225-member Parliament. As expected, Mr. Rajapaksa easily won a seat in the chamber. But his political coalition fell short of winning a majority, which he had said would have earned him the right to be named prime minister, the second-most powerful job in the government. The final results showed that Mr. Rajapaksa’s coalition lost support in every region of the country, including areas long viewed as his political base.

Full Article: Sri Lankans Reject Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Election, and Prosecution May Follow - The New York Times.

Sri Lanka: Mahinda Rajapaksa concedes unlikely to be PM | The Guardian

Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa at first conceded defeat but later rowed back, saying instead that he was unlikely to be prime minister, as figures began to come in following parliamentary elections on Monday night. Electoral authorities said the vote was orderly; however there were fears that if Rajapaksa won a mandate to be prime minister it could trigger a prolonged power struggle with the president, Maithripala Sirisena, who has said he will not appoint him regardless of the outcome. Sirisena defeated Rajapaksa to become president in a January 2015 election. “My dream of becoming prime minister has faded away,” Rajapaksa initially told the Agence France-Presse news agency on Monday night. “I am conceding. We have lost a good fight.” But speaking later to the Reuters news agency he was less definite, saying only that he was unlikely to lead the next government.

Full Article: Sri Lanka election: Mahinda Rajapaksa concedes unlikely to be PM | World news | The Guardian.

Sri Lanka: Election Tests Pace of Postwar Reconciliation | Wall Street Journal

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.

Full Article: Sri Lanka Election Tests Pace of Postwar Reconciliation - WSJ.

Sri Lanka: Political parties gear up for parliamentary elections | Colombo Page

Sri Lanka’s political parties intend to contest the parliamentary elections next month submitted their lists of candidates for the fray today to the relevant district secretaries. Acceptance of nominations for the General Election scheduled to be held on 17 August 2015, ended today at 12.00 noon, the Elections Department announced. The nomination list of the government party, United National Party (UNP), which formed a common front yesterday with several other political parties against the former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, included UPFA members Minister Champika Ranawaka and Western Provincial Councilor Hirunika Premachandra.

Full Article: Sri Lanka : Sri Lanka political parties gear up for parliamentary elections.

Sri Lanka: President dissolves parliament, clearing way for early election | The Guardian

Sri Lanka’s president dissolved parliament on Friday, a government spokesman said, in an effort to consolidate power and push through political reforms. Two government officials said elections will be held to elect a new parliament on 17 August. The president, Maithripala Sirisena, who was elected on 8 January, needs parliamentary support to push through reforms he has promised, including limits on the powers of the executive presidency. The timing of the parliamentary elections is also important. The United Nations Human Rights Council is expected to release a report in September on human rights abuses during the final phase of the war against the Tamil insurgency in 2009.

Full Article: Sri Lanka’s president dissolves parliament, clearing way for early election | World news | The Guardian.

Editorials: Sri Lanka’s surprise political transition | The Washington Post

Sri Lanka went to the polls on Thursday in a historic election. For the first time since the island became independent in 1948, an incumbent president was voted out of office. Early Friday, bleary-eyed from a night spent flipping between news networks or frantically refreshing Twitter, Sri Lankans struggled to assimilate the news that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had conceded the race. As stunned as everyone else in the capital city of Colombo, my own reaction was to pull up Timur Kuran’s 1991 article on the unpredictability of dramatic political shifts: “Now out of Never.” Neither a defeat nor a concession seemed likely, or even possible, in late November, when Rajapaksa called snap polls two full years ahead of schedule. The move was calculated to renew his mandate before a worsening economy began to eat into his electoral majority. With the main opposition United National Party (UNP) unable to produce a candidate more exciting than their unpopular longtime leader, Ranil Wickremasinghe, Rajapaksa expected to coast to an easy victory. His campaign strategy, as always, rested on reminding ethnic Sinhalese voters of his 2009 defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Full Article: Sri Lanka’s surprise political transition - The Washington Post.

Sri Lanka: Monitors say voters obstructed in Sri Lankan election | Al Jazeera

Election monitors said Thursday that voters in northern Sri Lanka were prevented from casting their ballots in an election that pits President Mahinda Rajapaksa against an ally who suddenly defected from the ruling party to run against him. The Center for Monitoring Election Violence, based in the capital of Colombo, also said a hand grenade exploded near a voting station in the northern Jaffna peninsula in the Tamil minority heartland, but that no injuries were reported. Elsewhere, voting appeared to proceed without any major incidents as people formed long lines in Colombo, and turnout was good in Tamil-dominated areas where voting had been poor in previous elections. Polls closed Thursday late afternoon and full results were expected to be announced sometime Friday.

Full Article: Monitors say voters obstructed in Sri Lankan election | Al Jazeera America.

Sri Lanka: In surprise, Sri Lankans vote in challenger to president | Associated Press

In a stunning election result that was unthinkable just weeks ago, Sri Lanka’s longtime president acknowledged Friday that he had been defeated by a onetime political ally, signaling the fall of a family dynasty and the rise of former Cabinet minister Maithripala Sirisena. Sirisena, who defected from the ruling party in a surprise move in November, capitalized on the outgoing President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s unpopularity among this island’s ethnic and religious minorities, as well as grumbling among the Sinhalese majority about his growing power and the country’s economic troubles. Sirisena, 63 and a longtime politician, was expected to be sworn in later Friday. The wider world was watching to see if the election was carried out fairly, especially since Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in the country on Tuesday. So far, there were no signs of post-election violence.

Full Article: In surprise, Sri Lankans vote in challenger to president - The Washington Post.

Sri Lanka: President Faces Fierce Battle in Sri Lanka Vote | Associated Press

Voters went to the polls Thursday in Sri Lanka, where President Mahinda Rajapaksa faces a fierce political battle after a onetime ally suddenly defected from the ruling party to run against him. The November defection by former Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena turned the race, which Rajapaksa had been widely expected to easily win, into a referendum on the president and the enormous power he wields over the island nation. People waited in long lines to cast their votes in Colombo, while in northern Jaffna, the ethnic Tamil heartland where voting has been poor in previous national elections, there was good early turnout.

Full Article: President Faces Fierce Battle in Sri Lanka Vote - NYTimes.com.

Sri Lanka: Monitor accuses ruling party of violating election rules | Reuters

Supporters of Sri Lanka’s ruling party has repeatedly violated election laws in the run-up to Thursday’s presidential vote and has largely got away with it because police have turned a blind eye, a local polling monitor said on Tuesday. The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) said there had been “unparalleled misuse of state resources and media” by the party of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose bid for a third term could be upset by an unexpected challenger from within his own ranks, Mithripala Sirisena. “There was impunity. No action was taken against the perpetrators or actions were mild,” Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, a convener of the CMEV, told reporters. He said police inaction had allowed election-related violence to mount, adding that most of those responsible were local councillors from Rajapaksa’s party.

Full Article: Sri Lanka monitor accuses ruling party of violating election rules | Reuters.

Sri Lanka: Elections in Sri Lanka: Down to the wire | The Economist

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.

Sri Lanka: For President, Renounced by Aides, Confidence of Re-election Dims | New York Times

In the days after Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, was betrayed by a group of his longtime aides, comparisons were made to Judas Iscariot and the serpent in the Garden of Eden, but nothing expressed the depth of the president’s hurt and bewilderment like the fact that the desertion had occurred just after a shared meal of hoppers. As he watched his old allies begin to stage an unexpected campaign last month to block his re-election, Mr. Rajapaksa could not help but dwell bitterly on the hoppers, pancakes made of fermented rice flour that are one of Sri Lanka’s most beloved comfort foods. He praised his new health minister, who replaced the most prominent defector, by saying he was not “someone who eats hoppers in the night and then stabs you in the back in the morning.” Mr. Rajapaksa is a famously sure-footed campaigner, so confident that he scheduled elections for Jan. 8, two years before the end of his second term. But the defections caught him unaware, and he is so jittery that he has begun promising concessions — like constitutional reforms and an investigation into possible war crimes committed during the government’s campaign against northern separatists — should he win a third six-year term.

Full Article: For Sri Lankan President, Renounced by Aides, Confidence of Re-election Dims - NYTimes.com.