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Updated: January 28, 2010 02:10 IST

People can now unite: Rajapaksa

B. Muralidhar Reddy
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Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa waves after hearing the election results in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Photo: AP
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa waves after hearing the election results in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Photo: AP

Minutes after he was declared the victor in the 2010 presidential election, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa told reporters that the outcome of the poll demonstrated the maturity of the people of the island nation.

Of the 14 million voters, nearly over a million exercised their franchise.

Flanked by his two brothers, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa, an upbeat President said the outcome had proved that the people were aware of the democratic process and that the people could now come together to build the country.

In response to questions, the Defence Secretary said he was unruffled by the string of charges levelled by retired General Sarath Fonseka, the former Army chief and chief opponent of Mr. Rajapaksa in the presidential polls, in the course of the six-week-long arduous campaign.

In contrast to the cheerful mood in the camp of the ruling combine, the atmosphere in the opposition ranks was sullen. While the retired General stayed put at a local hotel, where he had checked in the early hours of Wednesday, the activity in the opposition offices was low-key.

A report posted on the website of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) quoted the deputy leader of the party as saying after the announcement of the election results, the government posed a threat to the life and career of General Fonseka and was holding him captive at the Hotel Trans Asia, where he was staying. It quoted him as saying that over 300 service personnel had been posted to restrict the General’s free movement.

Responding to the allegation, Lucien Karunanayake, media head of the Presidential Secretariat said: “These are ridiculous allegations by a candidate and his supporters who lost the election by a large margin in a free and fair election acknowledged by the opposition leaders themselves”.

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