Sri Lanka goes to polls in crucial vote

Tamil Civilians Fleeing Bombing by Sri Lankan Forces

Tamil Civilians Fleeing Bombing by Sri Lankan Forces

Sri Lanka's ruling alliance suffered a humiliating defeat in the local elections, which is seen as a test of its leadership, as the party of former president Mahinda Rajapakse stood victorious, Al Jazeera reported.

A crucial local government election ended peacefully in Sri Lanka on Saturday as over 15 million voters cast their ballots to elect members to local government bodies, election monitors said.

In the run-up to Saturday's much-delayed local government election, Sirisena had even suggested that the UNP-led government was more corrupt than the Rajapaksa's administration they toppled together in January 2015.

Counting of votes has been completed at all the wards but election commission said it will declare the results for each body after doing the calculations.

"Rajapaksa's electoral performance comes as a surprise and will be problematic for President Sirisena", Shailesh Kumar, director with political risk consultants Eurasia Group told Reuters.

At a press briefing this morning, the leader of the Joint Opposition, Dinesh Gunawardane said the unity government had "no option but to resign", arguing the mandate given to it by the 2015 election had expired yesterday.

Tropical Cyclone Gita, 11 February 2018
The cyclone would be stronger than Cyclone Fehi, which caused extensive damage on New Zealand's West Coast last weekend. For other parts of the country, expect strong winds, heavy rain and thunderstorms from early tomorrow .

Sirisena says he wants to take charge of the economy, which is now handled by the UNP, and has blamed the prime minister's party for failing to tackle corruption.

Rajapaksa campaigned against the government's failure to curb the cost of living and to take action against corruption, as well as higher taxes, the privatisation of state assets, and less welfare for the poor and retired soldiers.

However, the government has yet to deliver on these reforms or on promised anti-corruption measures.

The Minister said a decision will be taken on whether to stay in the government at that meeting.

However, the president has no power to dissolve parliament until February 2020.

However, the government is unlikely to collapse because the prime minister's party holds the largest number of seats in parliament and Sirisena's party can not afford to break away, Kumar added.

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