Sri Lanka’s opposition leader Sajith Premadasa, who lost the presidential elections against Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has decided to contest the parliamentary elections scheduled to be held before December 1. According to media reports, Premadasa will contest from Colombo instead of his electorate, the Hambantota district, because of his national stature as a leader.
The Sri Lankan Parliament consists of 225 lawmakers who are elected through the proportional representation system for five-year terms. UNP leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will also contest from Colombo, which is one of the 22 multi-member electoral districts of Sri Lanka. Colombo sends 19 out the 225 legislators to the Parliament.
Premadasa, the leader of newly-formed Samagi Jana Balawegaya alliance, is set to lead the election campaign for the pre-poll coalition. During the presidential elections, Premadasa had tried to appeal to women voters with the issue of menstrual hygiene, a taboo subject in the conservative Buddhist society, but Rajapaksa’s ‘tough’ image as former de facto military chief overshadowed the issue in the wake of Easter bombings.
The United National Front (UNF), the current opposition, has the most number of seats in the Parliament but the loss in Presidential elections forced Ranil Wickremesinghe to resign from the Prime Ministerial post and Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya’s elder brother, was sworn-in as the Prime Minister. Wickremesinghe has maintained that there will not be any changes to the electorates and all members will contest from their respective constituencies.
In late 2018, Sri Lanka went through a constitutional crisis when the power equations kept shifting. The then President Maithripala Sirisena appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister but the Supreme Court declared the move unconstitutional. A no-confidence motion was moved against Rajapaksa which threw the country into deeper crisis. The apex court had also overturned Sirisena’s decision to dissolve the parliament and ordered a stay on the snap elections.
(With ANI inputs)