Overview Sri Lanka

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The Islamist Easter Sunday 2019 attacks targeting churches and tourist hotels put national security at the center of popular discourse. They augmented the growing opinion, especially within the Sinhala community, that Sri Lanka required a strong leader and legitimized anti-Muslim rhetoric. In November 2019, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected president, and in August 2020, his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, leader of the Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP), won a decisive victory at the parliamentary elections.

The COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the economy. Even before, Sri Lanka’s economy was stagnating, with low growth rates and low investor confidence. Substantial debt repayment due between 2019 and 2024 will put pressure on public finances and foreign reserves.

The SLPP enacted the 20th amendment to the constitution, undoing many democratic reforms achieved between 2015 and 2019 by substantially increasing the president’s power over parliament. Policy changes are needed on reconciliation and preventing violence from re-emerging, democracy and the rule of law, and climate change and sustainable development.

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