Sri Lanka elections: What you need to know | DW News

by birtanpublished on August 16, 2020

In sri lanka where in less than 24 hours some 16.2 million eligible voters will have a chance to elect a new parliament the vote which was delayed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic is seen as a test for sri lanka's

Constitutional democracy if the party of president gotabia rajapaksa wins a two-thirds majority in the new parliament it would allow it to bring changes to the constitution

Changes that would give greater powers to his office and the frontrunner in the polls is the president's own brother campaigning in times of covet 19 was kept to a minimum in sri lanka

But that did not dampen the excitement of mahinda rajapaksa's supporters rajapaksa the current prime minister is the favorite in the vote he's also the brother of the president

Whose work he highly praised we don't have to explain what would have happened if president rajapaksa had not let the battle against the covet pandemic mahinda rajapaksa was appointed prime

Minister only days after his younger brother gutabaya became president last november the rajapaksas have long been one of the country's most powerful families mahinda rajapaksa was already once

President and many sri lankans praise him because he ended the long civil war but there were also accusations of authoritarianism nepotism and corruption then came last year's easter sunday

Bombings in which more than 260 people were killed in islamist attacks the attacks made many sri lankans want to return to the rajapaksa family's sinali's nationalist

And buddhist agenda half a year after the attacks gotabaya rajapaksa was elected president now he and his brother are planning a major constitutional reform if as expected they come out ahead in

The vote critics say the rajapaksas want to tighten their grip on power by getting rid of independent bodies that curb the power of the president

But the opposition has not given up we will definitely form a government with a heart that understands the wishes of the common man

And finds solutions for the problems faced by the people analysts have little doubt that the rajapaksas will win the question is whether they will get

The big majority they need to implement their desired reforms joining me now from melbourne is amantha pereira he's a researcher at australia's cq university amanda thank you so much

For joining us now the ruling party wants to win a two-thirds majority to make changes to the constitution what are these changes and why are they so important

Well the changes have not been made clear i mean we haven't had an announcement as to detailing what these changes are the speculation is that some of the changes are aimed at

Probably undoing the amendments that were brought about in with the 19th amendment in 2015 and the likelihood of uh the uh the two the 19th amendment reimposed term limits for the presidency

So there could be a limiting a lifting of those term limits also there are uh the amendment also introduced commissions and the appointment of members to those commissions where the presidential power

Over them was decreased so the likelihood that these commissions or the appointment to these commissions uh where the president's hold on those commissions might be reduced

Will also be taken out and i think why they have become important according to the ruling parties that they will give a more stable hold on power for the executive presidency

To push ahead with policies as well as development and other work and also there is a lot of emphasis on security and the feeling at least among the ruling

Party is that you need a strong presidency to make sure that the security in the country is not jeopardized but but this security it comes at what

Cost i mean just let's look at the past few months under president gotabaya rajapaksa i mean he has created several task forces for example that are mainly comprised of sinali's

Military and police officials i mean is there a danger that sri lanka is slowly sliding into ethnic majoritarian rule well it actually depends with from

Which side you're looking at this now with the easter tax there was a demand within the country and especially within the majority singular community for

A far more stronger security leadership and president rajapaksa's victory was based on that and he hasn't done anything that he did not pledge to do when he

Campaigned for the presidency but on the other hand what we are seeing is also a regression of uh the more wider freedoms that the country gained uh with the 2015

Election where you saw the right to information act being introduced press freedom increasing and at least a semblance of

Investigations being taken looking into uh crimes and other violations that took place during the war so in that way yes there is this sense that there is a de facto militarization

Of the public sphere in in sri lanka but whether that is not the popular choice i think the jew is still out on that what exactly is at stake here for sri lanka in these elections

Well i think what really is at stake is a decision whether the country votes for uh as you said a more security oriented or a more military oriented uh public administration

Or whether the country looks at uh continuing what uh was there in the last five years where there was uh more similar freedoms but also chaos in terms of the president and the prime minister

Uh not getting along so i think that's the choice uh that's confronting the people right now we'll leave it there for the time being but thanks so much for joining us amanda pereira researcher

At australia cq university you

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