Snap elections are set to be held on April 25, 2020
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved the Parliament, six months ahead of the schedule, on March 2 and called for new elections in April. The main motive behind this move is to increase his overall presidential powers by securing majority and enforcing constitutional changes.
He was elected President in November last year and in less than six months he exercised his power under the constitution to dissolve the parliament and signed a decree that said the elections will be held on April 25. The President further said that this step was deemed necessary for him as he could not work with reduced presidential powers. He previously faced restrictions as the opposition commanded majority in a 225-member Parliament.
According to the Election Commission, the new parliament is set to meet on May 14. The campaign period for this election will also include the first anniversary of a suicide attack, inspired by the Islamic State that killed more than 250 people in churches and hotels on April 21 last year. Mr Rajapaksa criticised the previous government of major intelligence and security lapses, which facilitated the deadly bombings. This attack was observed as the worst incident of violence since the ending of the 26 year old civil war in the country.
Constitutional changes made by Maithripala Sirisena, predecessor of Mr Rajapaksa, decreased the presidential powers and distributed them to the Parliament and independent ministries. This shift in power had created two centres of political power- the Prime Minister and the President, with the PM being in charge of the Parliament and government commissions. The current president needs at least two-thirds of parliamentary majority to pass any changes in the constitution.