Inside Story

New era for Sri Lanka?

Long-serving leader Mahinda Rajapaksa concedes defeat to former ally in presidential election.

It was supposed to be written in the stars.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa called snap elections, on the advice of his astrologer.

He was seeking an unprecedented third term in office, with the opposition seemingly in disarray.

But in a dramatic celestial shift, health minister and one time ally Maithripala Sirisena eclipsed Rajapaksa’s political ambitions to take his job.

The outgoing president conceded defeat, as the result became apparent, marking the end of a divisive decade-long rule.

His office said he was “bowing to the wishes of the people”.

Sirisena is now promising sweeping reforms, by transferring many of the president’s powers to parliament.

But does this mark the beginning of a new political era for Sri Lanka? Or is the new man too closely associated with the old guard?


Hazem Sika


Charu Lata Hogg – associate fellow with Chatham House, and a researcher on Sri Lankan domestic politics.

Jehan Perera – executive director of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka.

Kumar Kumarendran – a Tamil activist and member of the British Tamils Forum.