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Sri Lanka Politics

State and politics

Sri Lanka is a republic within the Commonwealth. The 1978 constitution has set the model for France and the United States. The President, elected by the people for a maximum of two six-year periods, exercises all executive power as head of state, including: appoints or dismisses the Prime Minister and other members of the Government and may refer legislative proposals voted down in Parliament to a national referendum. The elected parliament, which stands for legislative power, has 225 members elected for six years. Election elections are held within the party that nominated the outgoing member. According to the Constitution, the state is supposed to promote Buddhism, but citizens are guaranteed religious freedom. According to a supplement, adopted in 1988, Tamil is official language besides Sinhalese. However, this has not improved relations or prevented the protracted civil war between these two groups.

Political System of Sri Lanka

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), together with the United National Party (UNP), has switched to power. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how SL can stand for Sri Lanka. In the 1994 elections, the newly formed Alliance Alliance won the People's Alliance, whose dominant party was SLFP. Prior to the 2004 election, the People's Alliance was transformed into the United People's Freedom Alliance. Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna(JVP), which consisted of revolting student activists in the early 1970s, has been transformed into a Sinhalese nationalist party with some leftist rhetoric. The Sinhalese parties, especially the SLFP and the UNP, advocate a centralized state, while Tamil parties - significantly weakened after the crushing of the "Liberation Tigers" (LTTE) in 2009 - have fought for a Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern parts of the island.

After eleven years as president, SLFP leader Chandrika Kumaratunga resigned in 2005. Her family has dominated Sri Lankan politics for almost the entire period of independence. Her father Solomon Bandaranaike was prime minister in 1956-59, his mother Sirimavo Bandaranaike was head of government in 1960-65, 1970-77 and 1994-2000. Brother Anura Bandaranaike has been President of Parliament and Foreign Minister.

Kumaratunga was succeeded as President by the lawyer Mahindra Rajapaksa from UPFA. Shortly after the electoral victory, Rajapaksa took an increasingly tough stance against the LTTE, which campaigned for an independent state for the country's Tamil population, which constitutes about 15 percent of Sri Lanka's residents.

After defeating the Tamil Tigers in a bloody war, Rajapaksa gained a growing popularity that later came to be replaced by widespread accusations of corruption and slanderous politics. This, as well as allegations that Rajapaksa exposed the country's Tamil civilian population to serious human rights violations during the end of the civil war, contributed to Rajapaksa losing the presidential election in January 2015. New President became Maithripala Sirisena from United National Front (UNP), former Health Minister of Rajap. At the next parliamentary elections in August of the same year, the UNP gained increased confidence in leading the country.

GOVERNMENT

Sri Lanka is a republic within the Commonwealth. The 1978 constitution has set the model for France and the United States. The president, who is elected in direct elections and can serve a maximum of two five-year terms, is the head of state and commander-in-chief, appoints or dismisses the prime minister and other members of government, and can refer legislative proposals voted down in parliament to a national referendum.

The elected parliament, which stands for legislative power, has 225 members elected for five years.

According to the Constitution, the state is supposed to promote Buddhism, but citizens are guaranteed religious freedom. According to a supplement, adopted in 1988, Tamil is official language besides Sinhalese. However, this has not improved relations or prevented the protracted civil war between these two groups.

Policy

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), together with the United National Party (UNP), has switched to power. In the 1994 elections, the newly formed Alliance Alliance won the People's Alliance, whose dominant party was SLFP. Prior to the 2004 election, the People's Alliance was transformed into the United People's Freedom Alliance. Since 2001, the UNP has led the United National Front (UNF) alliance. Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which consisted of revolted student activists in the early 1970s, has been transformed into a Sinhalese nationalist party with some leftist rhetoric.

The Sinhalese parties, especially the SLFP and the UNP, advocate a centralized state, while Tamil parties - significantly weakened after the crushing of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in 2009 - have fought for a Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern parts of the island.

After eleven years as president, SLFP leader Chandrika Kumaratunga (born 1945) resigned in 2005. Her family has dominated Lankan politics for almost the entire period of independence. Her father Solomon Bandaranaike was prime minister 1956-59, modern Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1916-2000) was prime minister 1960-65, 1970-77 and 1994-2000. Brother Anura Bandaranaike (1949-2008) has been, among other things, the Speaker of Parliament and Foreign Minister.

Kumaratunga was succeeded as President by the lawyer Mahinda Rajapaksa (born 1945) of UPFA. Shortly after the electoral victory, Rajapaksa took an increasingly tough stance against the LTTE, which was fighting for an independent state for the country's Tamil population, which constitutes about 15 percent of Sri Lankan residents.

After defeating the Tamil Tigers in a bloody war, Rajapaksa gained a growing popularity that later came to be replaced by widespread accusations of corruption and slanderous politics. This, as well as allegations that Rajapaksa exposed the country's Tamil civilian population to serious human rights violations during the end of the civil war, contributed to Rajapaksa losing the presidential election in January 2015. New President became Maithripala Sirisena from United National Front (UNP), former Health Minister of Rajap. At the next parliamentary elections in August of the same year, the UNP gained increased confidence in leading the country.

Judiciary

The legal system in Sri Lanka consists mainly of Roman law in Dutch vintage (Roman-Dutch law), English law, domestic law and local (Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic) customary law. The most important courts are the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The death penalty is contained in the penal code but is de facto abolished in 1976.

Human Rights

Maithripala Sirisena has prosecuted several members of the former government. The charges relate to attacks on and harassment by community activists, journalists and people who are considered sympathizers to the "liberation warriors" (LTTE). Involuntary disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and other forms of gender-based violence committed by police and security forces have also been extensive. Other serious violations of human rights are illegal executions carried out by the security forces of the former government, which mainly occurred in Tamil areas. News media in the Tamil areas of the north have also been subject to special restrictions and regular attacks.

Freedom of speech and press is guaranteed by law but is not complied with. Reports show that government officials have criticized, harassed and imprisoned journalists. Journalists practice self-censorship. In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2015, Sri Lanka is ranked 165th out of 180 countries, which is a bottom rating.

Heads of State

Presidents

1972-78 William Gopallawa
1978-89 Junius Richard Jayawardene
1989-93 Ranasinghe Premadasa
1993-94 Dingiri Banda Wijetunge
1994-2005 Chandrika Kumaratunga
2005-15 Mahinda Rajapaksa
2015-19 Maithripala Sirisena
2019- Gotabaya Rajapakse
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