COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s ruling party, led by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, has won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections, the country’s Election Commission announced on Friday morning.
Final results of Wednesday’s election showed that the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party (SLPP) won over 59 percent of the vote, which translates into 145 seats in the 225-member parliament. The win consolidates the Rajapaksa family’s control on the country’s politics, with the prime minister’s elder brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, serving as Sri Lanka’s president since November 2019.
The main opposition party in the outgoing parliament, the United National Party (UNP) of former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, won only one seat. The Samagi Jana Balawegaya alliance led by Sajith Premadasa, the son of Ranasinghe Premadasa, a former president who was assassinated in 1993, has now become the main opposition power with 23.9 percent of the vote and 54 parliamentary seats.
“The resounding victory has strengthened the SLPP and expressed people’s confidence,” President Rajapaksa said in a statement issued on Friday.
The UNP has accepted the defeat, with Secretary-General Akila Viraj Kariywasam saying, “We take responsibility for our failures and shortcomings.”
The prime minister will be sworn in on Sunday, while the new parliament is scheduled to meet for its first session on Aug. 20.
On Friday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated PM Rajapaksa on the victory, while the US Embassy in Colombo praised Sri Lanka for conducting the elections in a peaceful and orderly manner despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
The polls were held amid tight security and measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“We are proud that that we were able to conduct the polls successfully without any problems,” Deputy Commissioner of Elections S. Acchuttan told Arab News on Friday.
Sri Lanka is one of the few countries to hold an election despite the pandemic, due to which the vote originally scheduled for April had already been postponed twice.
Sri Lankans attributed Rajapaksa’s win to his brother’s successful response to the pandemic. The country of 21 million has recorded 2,839 COVID-19 cases and only 11 related deaths
“Successful management of COVID-19 at a world-class level increased people’s confidence in the regime,” Mohammed Rizqi, a chartered accountant, told Arab News.