Sri Lanka opposition strife could trigger snap general poll; Analysis

Nov 21 (LBO) – President Mahinda Rajapakse spent the first year in office trying to cobble together a stable coalition but squabbling in the opposition ranks has given him a new opening to call a snap election. The president told his close associates early last month that he did not want to call a snap election – predicted even before his election last year – out of gratitude to the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the monks’ Jathika Hela Urumaya for helping him win the presidency.

However, a deepening split in the JVP and its formal exit from the coalition government has removed the “ethical” barrier and set the stage for Rajapakse to call an early election to try to increase his hold on parliament.

Party insiders say it was clear to the president from the surveys he commissioned in June that the People’s Alliance could not win a parliamentary election on its own and needed the backing of the JVP.

However, with the latest splits in the main opposition United National Party (UNP), the decks are once again being cleared for the People’s Alliance to rout both the JVP and the UNP with one stroke.

UNP leader Wickremesinghe entered into a collaboration pact with Rajapakse only to prevent more o