The 2015 Sri Lanka election results are in, and it appears that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s bid to return to power has been thwarted.
The results show that the country’s United National Party has won the parliamentary election, which Al Jazeera notes will form a stable government after eight months of minority rule. The win solidifies power for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, with his party winning 106 of parliament’s 225. The United People’s Freedom Alliance, Rajapaksa’s party, won 95.
“I offer my grateful thanks to all parties and individuals who worked untiringly during the election period to ensure victory for the people,” Wickremesinghe said in a statement. “Let us together build a civilized society, build a consensual government and create a new country.”
The United National Party was not able to establish a total majority, and Wickremesinghe could now be in a position to form coalitions. It could also mean a place for Rajapaska, Al Jazeera‘s Minelle Fernandez noted.
“There will be a few days yet before we see the future face of the government here in this country,” she said. “That also leaves questions about former president’s Rajapaksa’s political future, what he does next.”
Rajapaksa was defeated earlier this year in the Sri Lankan presidential race by his former cabinet member, Maithripala Sirisena, but tried to make a comeback as prime minister. Polls showed that he was still a long shot — Colombo Page noted that 39.8 percent of voters preferred Wickremesinghe, while 27.5 percent were supporting Rajapska.
The election had the additional drama of an open murder investigation linked to Rajapaksa’s family.
Rajapaksa has denied having anything to do with it.
“Have these people who are hurling accusations at us been able to produce enough evidence even for a journalist in a mainstream media institution to be able to write a news report about the assets that we are supposed to have amassed?,” Rajapaksa said in an interview with the Island.
The Sri Lankan election had other undertones beyond Rajapaksa’s attempt to return to power, Al Jazeera writer Nidhi Dutt noted.
“This political battle of personalities, jingles and crowds has illuminated the very questions elections should answer. How happy are Sri Lankans with the leaders they voted for just seven months ago? Do they believe that the defeated and destroyed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are still a real and present danger? And how willing are they to untangle the island’s wartime past from its peacetime future?”
The 2015 Sri Lanka election will now give President Maithripala Sirisena a chance to follow through on reforms promised when he took power earlier this year.
[Picture by Buddhika Weerasinghe / Getty Images]