Sri Lanka: Economy, human rights key challenges facing Rajapaksas

The Rajapaksa family romped to victory in the August 5 Sri Lankan parliamentary elections capitalising on popular appetite for strong government, a fragmented opposition and a long-drawn campaign focused on Sinhala Buddhist nationalist ideology.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party won 146 seats just four short of the supermajority it needs to change the Constitution – one of the governing party’s main campaign promises.

Critics fear the planned constitutional reform will lead to authoritarianism, as it will amass more power in the hands of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has cracked down on journalists and political dissent since taking office in November.

Nearly 60 percent of the Sri Lankans reposed their faith in the Rajapaksa family in an election held amid strict public health measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

R Priyankara, a three-wheeler driver in Boralesgamuwa, a suburb of the capital Colombo, reads a newspaper announcing 150,000 job-handouts by the new government.

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