Monthly Archives: January 2015

President Rajapaksa faces a real and unprecedented challenge

President Rajapaksa faces a real and unprecedented challenge

Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa may have expected to easily secure a third term in office. But now he faces a real and unprecedented challenge, after his former health minister, Maithripala Sirisena, decided to run against him in Thursday’s vote. Rajapaksa also stands accused of corruption, nepotism and human …

Sri Lanka looks set to have their closest election

Sri Lanka looks set to have their closest election

Two years before an election was due, President Percy Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka has called an early poll for 8 January, seeking an unprecedented third term in office made possible by his revision of the constitution. So far the Sri Lankan president has had …

The Sinhalese constituency is split down the middle

The Sinhalese constituency is split down the middle

Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse will face an unprecedented challenge from a newly galvanised opposition when he seeks re-election this week, five years after his crushing military victory over Tamil guerrillas. South Asia’s longest-serving leader had appeared politically invincible after his forces crushed the Tamil …

In the last decade, activism by Buddhist monks has grown more overtly political

In the last decade, activism by Buddhist monks has grown more overtly political

When I met Watareka Vijitha Thero in early 2014 in a suburb of Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, he had been in hiding for nearly five months. The gentle-voiced monk had spoken out against anti-Muslim fear mongering by a hard-line group called the Buddhist Power …

Sri Lankan poll machinery looks confident

Sri Lankan poll machinery looks confident

Amid concerns among sections regarding alleged abuse of government machinery, discrimination by police, and control of the state media, Sri Lanka’s election commission appears confident about holding a free and fair election on January 8, said the former Chief Election Commissioner of India S.Y. Quraishi …

Mistreatment of Indian labourers in Sri Lanka

Mistreatment of Indian labourers in Sri Lanka

Promised for work, over seventy Indians are held captive in Sri Lanka. Being toutured and not paid for their hard work, the labourers now want to return to their homeland. With the passports being withheld they have now written to the Prime Minister and External …

The challenge has opened political debate

The challenge has opened political debate

Sri Lanka’s upcoming presidential election has created excitement with President Mahinda Rajapaksa facing challenge from his ex-colleague, Maithripala Sirisena, who promises reforms to curtail executive powers. Alan Keenan is International Crisis Group’s Sri Lanka Project Director. Speaking with Sameer Arshad, Keenan discussed the significance of …

Friend turned foe – the challenger for Sri Lanka’s presidency

Friend turned foe – the challenger for Sri Lanka’s presidency

Over a dinner of rice-flour pancakes with his trusted health minister one evening in November, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa observed with a grin that there would be no serious candidate to challenge him in the coming presidential election. Little did Rajapaksa know then that …

Pre-poll violations on the rise

Pre-poll violations on the rise

Campaign-related violence escalated across Sri Lanka ahead of next week’s elections as President Mahinda Rajapaksa fights an unexpectedly tough battle to remain in power, poll monitors and police said yesterday. The  Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) monitoring group had received 1,073 complaints since campaigning …

A few weeks ago, Sri Lanka’s upcoming election seemed a mere formality

A few weeks ago, Sri Lanka’s upcoming election seemed a mere formality

Until just a few weeks ago, Sri Lanka’s upcoming election seemed a mere formality. Nothing, it seemed, could keep President Mahinda Rajapaksa from rolling to a third term in office. He was the president hailed as a king after crushing the Tamil Tiger rebels in …