Sri Lanka is set to vote in its parliamentary elections on 17 August, which is being seen as a possible comeback for former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The elections will be held only seven months after the presidential polls in January that saw the shocking defeat of Rajapaksa to his former cabinet minister Maithripala Sirisena, who went on to become the Sri Lankan President.
With the parliamentary elections, Rajapaksa is hoping to return to the political stage as the Prime Minister.
15 million voters will elect members from 22 administrative districts to the 225-strong Sri Lankan parliament.
Here are some interesting facts about the Sri Lanka elections -
- Mahinda Rajapaksa has said he is contesting the elections on 'popular demand', stating that his supporters have asked him to rejoin politics.
- Rajapaksa faces a tough electoral battle, with incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe leading in opinion polls conducted ahead of the elections.
An opinion poll conducted last week puts Wickramasinghe ahead at 39.8%, while Rajapaksa is expected to win 27.5% of the votes, Colombo Page reported.
- Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has said he will not appoint Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister even if his party wins majority votes. In fact, Sirisena had advised Rajapaksa to not contest the elections at all.
- Sirisena has named leaders of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, such as Nimal Siripala de Silva, John Seneviratne, Chamal Rajapaksa, Susil Premajayantha and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, who can become the prime minister, Colombo Gazette reported.
- A recent murder probe against the Rajapaksa family, which led to the police even exhuming the remains of 'murdered' rugby player Wasim Thajudeen, has further dimmed chances of Rajapaksa's return.
- Rajapaksa, who was accused of corruption and nepotism during his rule, has said the allegations were 'fabricated', in a recent interview to a local newspaper.
"Have these people who are hurling accusations at us been able to produce enough evidence even for a journalist in a mainstream media institution to be able to write a news report about the assets that we are supposed to have amassed?" Rajapaksa questioned in an interview to The Island.
- Ten former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are also set to contest the elections, Channel News Asia reported. The former Tamil Tigers have formed a new group called the Crusaders for Democracy (CFD).
- The run-up to the elections has been relatively peaceful, barring a few incidents of violence.
- The elections will be monitored by the Commonwealth Observer group as well as a group from the European Union to see if electoral standards are met.
Where to Watch LIVE
This parliamentary elections will be an interesting one to follow, and you can catch the live action through webcasts by Sri Lankan media, such as Sri Lanka Rupavahini, Daily Ceylon or DailyMirror Sri Lanka. You can also follow the news on BBC's Sinhala channel.
Where to get LIVE UPDATES
To track live updates from the Sri Lanka elections, it is best to follow some important Twitter handles, such as those of Mahinda Rajapaksa, Maithripala Sirisena and the Sri Lankan government news portal.