The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) scored a landslide victory in the local government elections concluded yesterday.
The extraordinary slowness of releasing results notwithstanding it is now clear that the SLPP have won the majority of seats in more than 250 local government bodies while securing more than 50% of the total votes cast in areas outside those with Tamil or Muslim majorities. The United National Party stands second with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the coalition it leads, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) a distant third, followed by the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).
Dismissing talk of taking over the Premiership, former President and the virtual leader of the SLPP Mahinda Rajapaksa pointed out that this was a local government and not parliamentary election. However he has stated that the Government should table a special bill in Parliament to enable its dissolution and the holding of fresh elections in a context where it is clearly lost the confidence of the people.
Following the apparent landslide victory Rajapaksa urged supporters to ‘celebrate peacefully and with restraint.’ The following is a statement released to the media by Rajapaksa:
“Reports coming in from all corners of the island, indicate that the Sri Lanka PodujanaPeramuna is heading for a historic victory at the local government elections. I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to the voting public of Sri Lanka who have reposed their trust in us, and made this victory possible. The opposition has been able to achieve this victory amidst unprecedented persecution and harassment.
“Despite the personal harassment they may have had to face over the past three years, I earnestly request all those who contested under the Sri Lanka PodujanaPeramuna to celebrate this hard won victory peacefully and with restraint and in a manner that will not inconvenience the defeated side. Members of the SLPP should be mindful that such is the way we should show our appreciation to the voting public of Sri Lanka.
“Victory to all Sri Lankans!
“May the blessings of the Triple Gem be upon you.”
Rajapaksa has also stated elsewhere that since the anti-government vote was secured by the SLPP the Joint Opposition should be given the Opposition Leader’s post. He further stated that he was prepared to accept it. SLPP sources also stated that Rajapaksa had expressed the opinion that he should be reinstated as Chairman of the SLFP.
Meanwhile, according to unconfirmed reports President Maithripala Sirisena, whose party suffered a humiliating defeat, is said to have shunned his advisors and instead had a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.