What you need to know about Sri Lankan election

Sri Lanka holds a parliamentary election on Monday, seven months after Maithripala Sirisena won a landslide victory over his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa in a presidential election.

COLOMBO: On Monday (17 Aug), Sri Lanka holds a parliamentary election where its citizens vote to elect 225 members of the country’s 15th parliament.

Of these, 195 members of parliament will be chosen by the public. Once elected, the winning parties will then nominate 30 more MPs to fill the remaining seats.

Two main competitors in this year’s election are the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and the United National Party (UNP).

A Sri Lankan woman in Jaffna, north of Sri Lanka. (Photo: Pichayada Promchertchoo/CNA)

UPFA has been campaigning to bring back former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister. Mr Rajapaksa was the sixth president of Sri Lanka, serving from Nov 2005 to Jan 2015.

During his administration, Mr Rajapaksa was criticised, both domestically and internationally, for an estimate of 40,000 civilian casualties during the last phase of a war against separatist movement the Tamil Tigers, which ended in 2009. Among the many allegations against his ‘regime’ were his refusal to grant political rights to Tamil minorities, suppression of media freedom and corruption.

Sri Lankan fishermen cleaning a boat. (Photo: Pichayada Promchertchoo/CNA)

Meanwhile, UNP leader and current Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is contesting from the capital Colombo. During its campaign, the UNP stressed its commitment to reform the country, promote reconciliation between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil minorities, spur economic development and realign its foreign policy to balance the country’ relations with China and the West.

Besides these two parties, the parliamentary election this year also sees independent candidates from Crusaders for Democracy. The group comprises ten candidates, former Tamil Tigers’ members who are seeking a bigger role in Sri Lanka’s politics.

This story is the final part of a digital series on Sri Lanka six years after the war.