Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sri Lanka vote leaves Rajapaksa short of two-thirds majority

By Paul Tighe - President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s party fell short of a two-thirds majority in Sri Lanka’s Parliament according to results from the last two districts to report after the April 8 general elections.

The ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance won 10 seats yesterday after a new vote was ordered in Kandy and Trincomalee, according to the government’s Web site.

The UPFA has 127 of the seats for directly elected lawmakers as well as 17 filled proportionally from parties based on vote tallies. The total is six short of the 150 needed for a two-thirds majority in the 225-member assembly, according to the Election Commission.

Rajapaksa won re-election as president in January by the biggest margin in 16 years, boosted by Sri Lanka’s growing economy since the army defeated the Liberation Tigers and Tamil Eelam in May and ended a 26-year civil war. A two-thirds majority in the assembly would have enabled him to change the constitution that limits a president to two terms.

Sri Lanka’s main opposition parties abandoned an alliance after General Sarath Fonseka, Rajapaksa’s main challenger in January, was arrested. The former army chief is facing a court martial on charges he violated military and exchange-control laws, allegations he denies.

The main opposition United National Party won a total of 60 seats in parliament, according to the commission. A party representing minority Tamils won 14 seats.

Sri Lanka’s economy is forecast by the central bank to grow by 6.5 percent in 2010, the fastest pace in three years, led by a construction spree, increased farm production and an improving tourism industry.

Continuing the economic recovery and bringing reconciliation with the Tamils will be Rajapaksa’s biggest challenges.

The new vote was ordered in the two districts after allegations of election malpractices, the government said April 10.

© Bloomberg

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