January 23, 2019

Sri Lanka ruling alliance suffers defeat in local polls

12 February 2018, 07:04 | Devin Moran

Sri Lanka: SLFP backed by Mahinda Rajapaksa takes lead in local body elections

Voting underway in LG elections seen as unofficial referendum

The Sri Lanka Podujana Party spearheaded by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa recorded a historic victory inSaturday's Local Government elections securing more than 225 local councils pushing the United National Party (UNP) to the second place with little over 40 councils.

Prior to the meeting with the President, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe held discussions with the senior members of the UNP at the Temple Trees yesterday afternoon, after the elections results of the Municipal Councils, Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas were released.

The SLPP is heading towards a landslide victory at the local government election garnering, 45 per cent of the majority votes, it said.

President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and former President Mahinda Rajapakse were among those who voted early on Saturday.

The JVP said though they did not get the expected result, they were able to increase their membership compared to the previous time.

Official results showed Rajapakse's Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna - SLPP or People's Front - won 225 councils, or two thirds of the 340 up for grabs, in Saturday's election described by private poll monitors as the most peaceful in decades. The party estimated to have won over 230 councils outside of the north and the east.

Sirisena was voted into office on the strength of support mainly from minority Tamil and Muslin communities.

This is the first local elections since the centre-left SLFP and centre-right UNP parties formed a unity government in August 2015, Al Jazeera reported.

Sirisena faces a sterner challenge from his predecessor Rajapaksa.

Sirisena has targeted the Wickremesinghe's UNP, dubbing it even more corrupt than the Rajapaksa government of which Sirisena walked out to become the then main opposition challenger.

Another key feature of the election is the 25% quota for women council members.

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