Presidential elections will be held in Sri Lanka on the 8th of January, two years ahead of schedule.
This will also effect travellers in the Sri Lanka. It’s almost certain that there will be a curfew on the evening of the election day. The risk of acts of violence is high on election days in Sri Lanka. It would come to no surprise if the curfew has to be extended for a few days.
The reason for the early elections is that the incumbent president expects better chances to win early elections, since his popularity has been decreasing.
It’s the first time a Sri Lankan president is seeking a third term in office. His party alliance UPFA was able to change the constitution for this purpose, the 18th amendment enabling a president to serve a third term and transferring extensive executional powers to him. But there are serious concerns that the third term is unconstitutional because the incumbent president had won his second term already before the constitution was changed. But the Supreme Court ruled that ge could stand for re-election. But this could be the result of the president´s move to replace the former chief of justice with a justice loyal to him.
The incumbent president, Mahinda Rajapakse, is still quite popular among the Sinhalese majority, because he was able to end the civil war in the country by defeating the LTTE separatists, which was a cruel terrorist organization attacking civilians and internal opponents and recruiting child soldiers in large numbers.
However, the opposition is not chanceless. Surprisingly, their candidate Sirisena is a former minister and member of the the president’s party. His anti-corruption agenda and his mainstream Sinhalese-Buddhist background could attract traditional voters of the president’s party, too. The traditional leadershiop of this party, mainly the Bandaranayakes from the Colombo area, is opposed to the increasingly dominating presidential family from the Southern Province. The former president Kumaratunga, daughter of party founder S.W.R.D. Bandaranayake, supports the opposition candidate.
Vote rigging is not impossible in Sri Lanka. In case of a close election result suspicions could result in violence.
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