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China debt worries grow in Sri Lanka as ex-president regains clout

After victory in local elections, Rajapaksa calls for new national vote

COLOMBO -- Sri Lanka is poised to become even more indebted to Beijing with the return of pro-China ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, after his newly formed Sri Lanka People's Front won a landslide victory at Saturday's local government elections.

The victory for the party could see Sri Lanka flip back into the arms of China, Rajapaksa's favorite lender and builder. The current government had leant toward India and Western powers but this dynamic could now be tested. Already, as a legacy of Rajapaksa's government, Sri Lanka owes China $8 billion of its total $65 billion of debt, equivalent to over 70% of its gross domestic product.

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