Reuters

Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition is on course to suffer a shocking defeat in local elections as the party backed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is set to register a landslide victory.

At 1:30pm local time (19:00 GMT), with most results in, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) had won 44.05 percent of the vote.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) garnered 31.65 percent while the President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) came a distant third with 9.52 percent of the vote.

This is the first local elections since the centre-left SLFP and centre-right UNP parties formed a unity government in August 2015.

The UNP however, is expected to win the Colombo Municipal Council comfortably, with Rosy Senanayake set to become the first female mayor of Sri Lanka’s capital city.

Saturday’s result has surprised many Sri Lankan political analysts and is being considered a blow to the ruling coalition that has been roiled by political bickering in recent months.

President Sirisena was particularly critical of the UNP in their handling of the economy. Many UNP ministers publicly criticised the president.

The coalition infighting was clearly evident during the campaign trail, as both the coalition partners contested against each other.

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