Sri Lankans elect new parliament with old faces

TEANECK, N.J. — Polls closed on Monday, Aug. 17, concluding a very important election for the people of Sri Lanka. Voters were to decide between the government of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa of the United People’s Freedom Alliance, UPFA, and that of former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe of the United National Party, UNP.

The election showed a healthy interest among citizens as 77.66 percent of registered voters came to cast their votes.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. photo credit: twitter.com

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. photo credit: twitter.com

The United National Party won with 45.66 percent of votes while the United People’s Freedom Alliance obtained 42.38 percent.

The voting process was characterized this year by the peaceful manner of citizens. The elections were conducted without incidents, except for few minor ones, the elections’ commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said. Many citizens expressed their thoughts on the process, agreeing that in an era where politicians use unethical tactics to stay in power, the elections in Sri Lanka stand as an example of a successful and peaceful power transfer, achieved through democratic means.

The outcome of the elections meant that people have stood by their choice of a new political era, following the January defeat of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa by current President Maithripala Sirisena. There were many corruption allegations during the presidential term of Rajapakse. And in the months leading to the election, there were many inquiries that were pointing fingers at both the ex-president and his family. These inquiries may remain under the new government. Special attention needs to be paid for the various deals with China and their legality.

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe. photo credit: omlanka.net

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe. photo credit: omlanka.net

The next step would be to form the coalition government needed to control the country. Currently, the ruling party is in talks with the opposition to create a unity government. The cabinet formation has been delayed so far. Many of the politicians have been part of previous UNP governments and any support from the opposition would also mean old faces are back in power.

Sri Lanka has been given an excellent chance to take maximum advantage of the peace following its civil war. It is therefore of utmost importance that the country’s rulers try to find a clear common ground where people will be placed first.

Interest in Sri Lanka will continue to rise because of its strategic position between China and the West, especially the Middle East. Just governance can see that this interest is correctly utilized to give people much-needed benefits.

cartoon credit: movienewspaper.com