Sri Lanka: Briefing Note

For a detailed timeline of major events in Sri Lanka post-2019, please visit our Sri Lanka Timeline.

Our previous Sri Lanka briefing notes can found here.

Political Landscape

  • The landscape continues to be dominated by discourse around the leftist NPP party: this time in the aftermath of their visit to India on an official visit.
    • The NPP is attempting to pitch this as an example of their growth into a party fit for government. 
    • Its opponents are trying to portray the visit as hypocrisy and proof that for all their extravagant rhetoric, the NPP are constrained by the same geopolitical realities as every other aspirant for government. 
  • The biggest winner here is the Indian government. It is now starkly apparent that whoever forms a government will have to defer to the political muscle and economic might of India.

Current Events

  • There was some much-needed clarity given to the electoral calendar.
    • The presidential election was confirmed as taking place this year, with the general election to elect members of parliament scheduled for 2025.
    • There was some speculation that a general election would follow soon after the presidential election.
    • However, the 2024/2025 split works for the incumbent president Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW), who has established a strong working relationship with his former opponents in the SLPP party.
    • Given the anger directed at that party during the protests of 2021, it seems very likely most of those MPs would lose their seats in a general election. These MPs now have more than a year of job security, further incentivizing them to work with RW.
    • With crossovers from opposing parties a core part of RW’s strategy, this also allows the President to offer ministerships over an extended period of time as an incentive to join him.
  • A significant development to monitor with the main opposition, SJB party, is the increasing sounds of dissent from their chairperson, Sarath Fonseka (SF).  
    • The highly decorated former military officer, and one time presidential candidate, has objected to the party leader Sajith Premadada (SP) recruiting other high-profile retired military officers into the party.
    • How this dissent is handled, and who SF ultimately backs, will be a key indicator as to SP’s and the SJB’s viability as the main alternative to those backing RW.