The defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Sri Lankan Presidential elections on January 8 is hailed internationally as a victory for the rule of law, democracy, freedom of expression and good governance. The Rajapkasa government (2005-2015) defeated the terrorist LTTE in 2009 ending the longest running conflict in Asia. It also contributed to substantial economic growth turning Sri Lanka into a middle-income country in a region with the greatest concentration of poor. Despite these political and economic achievements, Rajapaksa narrowly lost the elections due to charges of corruption and authoritarianism of his government.
Rajapaksa was defeated by Maithripala Sirisena, the so-called ‘Common Candidate’ of a new political alliance which claimed that the extent of corruption in the last few years of the Rajapaksa government was “unprecedented and unheard of before” in Sri Lanka. The current government, however, is not entirely a new regime; only Rajapaksa and his core circle were replaced. Sirisena, like a number of others in his administration served as senior Ministers of the Rajapaksa administration until the election campaign. As such, they too bear responsibility for alleged excesses of the Rajapaksa regime.
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