Opposition-backed presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena is supported by some Tamils and human rights activists, but others say he represents little different from the current regime.
By Chris Slee
January 2, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly -- Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa is being challenged by Maithripala Sirisena, who was until recently one of his ministers, in the January 8 presidential elections. However, many Tamils and leftists see little difference between the two.
Sirisena is being supported by the opposition United National Party, and has promised to appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe as prime minister. There are 16 other candidates.
Sirisena has promised to abolish the system of executive presidency, which concentrates power in the hands of the president, and replace it with a system where the parliament has more power.
This change has long been advocated by many human rights advocates, who think that reducing the arbitrary power of the president would improve the human rights situation. Some human rights advocates are supporting Sirisena for this reason.
However the Tamil Civil Society Forum sees no real difference between Rajapaksa and Sirisena.