Rajapakse backed alliance takes lead in Sri Lanka local polls

Sri Lanka goes to polls in crucial vote

Ranil-Sirisena under pressure to step down

Sri Lanka's former President, Mahinda Rajapakse led Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) contesting under the Pohottuwa symbol has claimed victory in over 230 local government bodies at the recently held polls.

The unexpectedly strong showing could lead to defections away from the centre-left party led by President Maithripala Sirisena, a partner in the country's coalition government, analysts said, creating instability in the legislature.

Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa thanked voters after Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, backed by him won a landslide in local polls.

"I take full responsibility for the SLFP's electoral setback".

Sirisena's relationship with Wickremesinghe, his main supporter when he defeated Rajapaksa in the presidency in 2015, has soured in recent months. G. L. Peiris told the reporters that Rajapaksa's victory was proof that people of Sri Lanka have lost faith in the ruling party.

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Sirisena has targeted the Wickremesinghe's United National Party, dubbing it even more corrupt than the Rajapaksa government of which Sirisena walked out to become the then main opposition challenger. The president's party has 41 legislators and the prime minister's party commands 106 MPs in the 225-member parliament.

It was discussed at length on issues relating to high cost of living, unemployment, curtailing corruption and fraud.

The president and his supporters have opposed or neutralised numerous UNP reforms.

The Supreme Court in September ruled that the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution to hold council elections on a single day requires two-third parliamentary majority and a nationwide referendum.

Sirisena has said 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.

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