Following the Constitution of 1978, Sri Lanka is a
presidential, democratic and unified state republic. The
head of state, the president, is elected in the general
election for six years and can be re-elected. The
president's power has been strengthened on several
occasions. Thus, he/she can print a new presidential
election before a term is out, appoint and dismiss the prime
minister and other ministers, even take over the ministerial
post he/she may wish, dissolve parliament and submit cases
that parliament has rejected for referendum.
Legislative authority has been added to parliament. It
has 225 members, who are elected for six years in general
elections according to a modified ratio scheme (with
Administratively, Sri Lanka is divided into nine
provinces. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of SL and its meanings of Sri Lanka. These are headed by a provincial council and are
again divided into 25 administrative districts
The judiciary includes the Supreme Court, the Court of
Appeal, a Superior Court, district courts, magistrates'
courts and primary courts. The last four courts are first
instance courts, with the court of appeals as the first
court of appeal.
The legislation is a mixture of English, Dutch, Sinhalese
and traditional legislation.
India signed the treaty as a guarantor and pledged to
send troops to guarantee compliance with the agreement.
First, however, it had to be ratified by the parliaments of
India and Sri Lanka and approved by the main guerrilla
group: "The Tigers of Liberation of Tamil EELAM" (LTTE) -
also known as the "Tamil Tigers".
The 1987 agreement failed to bring peace to the country
and, rather than guaranteeing peace, the presence of Indian
forces became a source of irritation and new clashes. At the
same time, the Tamil Tigers rejected the agreement, causing
violence to increase further.
In the 1988 election, the ruling party retained power
with 50.4% of the vote, but the 82-year-old Jayeward left
the presidential post to Ranasinghe Premadasa, who had been
prime minister until then.
The election campaign was characterized by the political
violence in the country, which was the main reason why only
53% of the eligible voters voted. The election was boycotted
by both the Tamil Tigers and the Sinhalese People's
Liberation Front, who violently opposes any form of
concession to the ethnic minority.
At the same time, opposition to the government increased.
In particular, it was borne out by a strong student
movement, which was only stifled in early 1989 after an
In early 1990, India withdrew the last of the 60,000
soldiers from Sri Lanka who had been posted since 1987. Over
1,000 soldiers had died on the island. Amnesty International
declared that through 1990 the government killed thousands
In May 1991, the Tamil Tigers were accused of killing
Indian President Rajiv Ghandi in a suicide attack. The
Indian president had become the enemy of the tigers after
the Indian peacekeepers attacked the Tigers on the island.
Still, they refused to be linked to the attack. The partisan
movement is believed to be the most efficient and best
equipped in the world. It is funded by Tamils abroad who
contribute millions of dollars annually. Its 37-year-old
leader, Vilupillai Prabhakaran is headquartered in the
jungle in the north of the country.
The UNP government won the May 17 election, conducted in
fairly calm conditions, and gained a majority in 6 of the
country's 7 provinces. In August, tiger leader Velupillai
accused his second-in-command of negotiating with the
government, removing him from the post. The outlook for
peace seemed very distant. As a result of the war, the
economy of the northern and eastern parts of the country has
almost collapsed and thousands have had to emigrate.
At the November 1994 presidential election, the People's
Alliance candidate, Chandrika Kumaratunga, won the election
by 63% of the vote. She had been appointed prime minister
after the August parliamentary elections and now became the
country's first female president.
The government and the Tigers agreed to start
negotiations in January 1995, but the ceasefire was broken
by the Tamils, and in April the LTTE launched a new series
of attacks on the government forces.
In August, Kumaratunga presented a plan to reform the
state for parliament. The proposal was supported by the
Tamils. the transformation of Sri Lanka into a federation of
8 regions. The central government should maintain control
over defense, foreign policy and international economic
relations. In order to be adopted, the proposal had to be
supported by two-thirds of the Members of Parliament and
subsequently approved by a referendum. But negotiations
between the political parties slowed the process, and the
increasingly fierce military fighting delayed it further.
From October 1995, the city of Jaffna became the center
of military fighting in northern Sri Lanka, and on December
5, the government forces captured the city. Only 400 of the
140,000 residents of the city remained. It was not until
mid-1996 that half the population of the Jaffna Peninsula
had returned to their homes.