Rajapaksa brothers win thumping majority in Sri Lanka parliamentary vote | News | DW | 06.08.2020
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Rajapaksa brothers win thumping majority in Sri Lanka parliamentary vote

The ruling party win in Sri Lanka will allow President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and PM Mahinda Rajapaksa to change the constitution. The brothers are expected to strike down constitutional limitations on presidential power.

The Rajapaksa brothers in 2019 (Reuters/D. Liyanawatte)

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa (L) and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (R)

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, have won the two-thirds majority in the parliamentary election held on Wednesday, according to official estimates.  

The brothers' party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), won 146 seats in the 225-member legislature, which is a majority of nearly 65%.

The win in the parliamentary election will enable the ruling party to make changes to Sri Lanka's constitution and get rid of checks on presidential power. These limitations were put in place following the 2015 election, in which Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated by Maithripala Sirisena.  

"We hope the new parliament will be more representative of Sri Lanka — with more women, more youth, more people from marginalized communities," Ruki Fernando, a human rights activist based in Sri Lanka capital of Colombo, told DW. 

Read more: How Sri Lanka successfully curtailed the coronavirus pandemic

No check on the executive without a legislature 

Mahinda's brother, Gotabaya, came to power as President in November 2019 and took office with an opposition-majority parliament. He dissolved the parliament on March 2, a move allowed by Sri Lanka's constitution, and called for new elections on April 25.  

Watch video 03:04

Sri Lanka's opposition fears authoritarian rule (06.12.2019)

Read more: The Rajapaksa brothers walk a diplomatic tightrope with China and India

However, as the coronavirus pandemic began to spread around the world, the date for elections was pushed back to June 20, and again to August 5.  

Constitutional activists had called for the old parliament to be reconvened until it was safe to hold elections. In the absence of a legislature, Sri Lanka's coronavirus response was steered by the Gotabaya Rajapaksa-led executive and the military. 

Rajapaksa had also strengthened his grip on government offices by appointing former military officials to a number of key positions in ministries, in the political vacuum caused by the coronavirus lockdowns. 

am/dj (AFP, dpa)