- Soaring prices, shortages of essential goods and crippling external debts have sparked widespread protests across the country in recent years.
- In 2022, enraged demonstrators even stormed the residence of the then president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, forcing him to flee the country and resign.
- Five elections will take place in South Asian countries this year, and most will likely return incumbent parties to power.
- Wickremesinghe, who has already been Sri Lankan prime minister five times, is widely tipped to run for presidency.
- But he faces vast criticism on the grounds that he came to power without being elected by the people.
- He won a parliamentary vote to replace Rajapaksa but has no popular mandate.
- More than 17% of Sri Lankans are suffering from food insecurity and are in need of humanitarian assistance.
How not to hold elections
- Local government elections were initially scheduled for March 9 2023, but they were repeatedly postponed due to a shortage of funds.
- Shortly afterwards, the election commission postponed the elections indefinitely, defying a Supreme Court order.
- So, when the announcement that elections would be held was finally made, it was unsurprisingly received with apprehension by the electorate.
- Created to provide protection against online harassment, abuse and fraud, this highly repressive law could threaten the right to freedom of expression that is crucial for free and fair elections.
The elusive winds of change
- So who are Wickremesinghe and his allies afraid of?
- Informal surveys reveal the rising popularity of Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the leader of the leftist National People’s Power alliance.
- Wickremesinghe originally claimed that elections would be held when Sri Lanka had achieved greater stability.
Thiruni Kelegama does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.