Sri Lanka after the End of the Civil War
Even after the end of the civil war, tens of thousands of Tamils who had fled the clashes still lived in inadequately equipped refugee camps. In November 2009, President Rajapaksa, whose term of office would only have expired in November 2011, announced early presidential elections for January 2010 in order to be able to continue his consolidation course. In the elections influenced by the government’s media campaigns, the population confirmed Rajapaksa on January 26, 2010, according to the electoral commission, with almost 58% of the votes. The opponent, supported by several opposition parties, the former Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces Sarath Fonseka (* 1950), who had questioned the election results, was arrested in February 2010.
According to aceinland, the indictment accused him, among other things. prohibited political activity during his military service. In mid-September 2010, Fonseka was sentenced to two and a half years in prison (2011 sentenced to a further three years in prison). The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) also won the parliamentary elections on April 8, 2010 with 60.3% of the vote. The new Prime Minister was Disanayaka Mudiyanselage Jayaratne (* 1931, † 2019) on April 21, 2010. After the elections, Rajapaksa made an effortto expand the constitutional powers of the president. In this context, on September 8, 2010, Parliament voted inter alia. for a lifting of the term limit on two terms and made Rajapaksa possiblethus another candidacy in the next presidential election. In three rounds in March, July and October 2011, local elections were held in all provinces with the exception of the Tamil Northern Province. The ruling party alliance United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) received a majority of votes in 270 of 322 regional authorities. However, the capital Colombo remained clearly in the hands of the strongest opposition party, the United National Party (UNP). In order to strengthen economic relations and tourism between India and Sri Lanka, ferry traffic between the two countries was resumed in mid-June 2011 after an interruption of almost 30 years. The ferry connections had been suspended due to the civil war. In May 2012, Sarath became Fonseka released from custody. In 2013, the first local elections since the end of the civil war were held in the northern province. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) won 30 of 38 seats there. The election, for which strict security precautions had been taken, was to represent an important step towards normalizing domestic political conditions. Nevertheless, in March 2014 the UN Human Rights Council called for the overdue processing of human rights violations during the civil war. The relationship between the majority of the Sinhalese and the minority of the Tamils was not free of tension.
In October 2014, President Rajapaksa surprisingly announced early elections, which led to considerable upheaval in the governing coalition. Maithripala Sirisena, Minister of Health, General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and long-time political companion of Rajapaksa, made himself available to the united opposition (New Democratic Front) as an opposing candidate and was also supported by parts of the previous government camp. In the elections on January 8, 2015, contrary to the predictions, he was able to prevail with 51.3% of the votes against Rajapaksa, who received 47.6% of the votes. On 9 January 2015 Sirisena was sworn in as president. He appointed the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister at the head of a minority cabinet. In March 2015, the cabinet was expanded to include SLFP ministers. The 19th amendment to the Constitution passed in April 2015 led, inter alia, to again a term limit for the president. In order to better enforce the reforms he had announced, Sirisena resolved the parliament and announced new elections.
In these elections on August 17, 2015, the UNP-led alliance United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) won 45.7% of the vote and 106 of 225 seats in parliament. The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) with former President M. Rajapaksa won 42.4% of the vote and 95 seats. On August 21, 2015, R. Wickremesinghe was sworn in for a further term as Prime Minister. In January 2016, the President initiated a procedure for Parliament to amend the Constitution. This meant that the presidential power, which had been greatly expanded by M. Rajapaksa, was to be withdrawn and the country to be decentralized.
Personal animosities between President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe led to a constitutional crisis in October 2018. Sirisena deposed Wickremesinghe, appointed M. Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister and dissolved parliament. The population responded with massive protests. After a ruling by the Supreme Court on December 13, 2018, M. Rajapaksa resigned and Wickremesinghe took over the office of Prime Minister again.
Sri Lanka is an important transit country for drugs, and the increasing number of addicts in the country is also a growing problem. In June 2019, Sirisena re-enacted the death penalty by presidential decree, which had not been implemented since 1976. The use of the death penalty should alleviate the problem of drug-related crime.
In April 2019, following Islamist-motivated terrorist attacks on luxury hotels and Christian churches with around 290 deaths, ethnic and religious tensions arose. These were the worst attacks since the end of the civil war ten years earlier. Immediately after the coordinated attacks, the number of tourists fell by 80%; at the end of 2019 it was 20% compared to the previous year.
After the resignation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the former defense minister and candidate of the Sinhala nationalist SLPP, Gotabaya Rajapaksa (* 1949), received 52.3% of the vote in the presidential election on November 16, 2019 and was appointed president. G. Rajapaksa’s strongest opponent, Sajith Premadasa (* 1967), fell short of expectations with 42% of the vote. G. Rajapaksa is suspected of nepotism and corruption and prosecution is suspended for the duration of the presidency. The change of government again gave the Rajapaksa clan political responsibility. Gotabaya Rajapaksais the brother of Mahinda Rajapaksas (President 2005–15), under whom extreme violence was used against the separatist rebels “Tabil Tigers” and political opponents during the civil war.