South Asia

Mahinda Rajapaksa steps down

1/11
Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa conceded defeat, said his official media unit on January 9, following clear signs of his opponent Maithripala Sirisena's victory in the presidential elections.
Mr. Rajapaksa vacated Temple Trees, his official residence early on Friday, following a meeting with Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe, assuring him of smooth transition.
The contest for the island’s eighth presidential election began in November when incumbent Rajapaksa called snap polls, two years ahead of schedule.
Mahinda Rajapaksa etched his name in Sri Lankan history by the military victory over the LTTE and went on to become the first executive President to secure a landslide victory in Parliamentary polls earning a second term in 2010
Rajapaksa was last elected in 2010, when he defeated his former army chief Sarath Fonseka, who was later jailed for implicating the government in war crimes
After securing a second term in 2010 Mr. Rajapaksa rewrote the Sri Lankan Constitution, removing the two-term limit on the presidency, thus enabling him to run for an unprecedented third term in office. As per the Sri Lankan Constitution, the incumbent can call fresh polls after completing four years — the full terms is six years — in office
For the Northern Tamils, the primary reason to vote against him is that though the war ended five years ago, peace hasn’t really begun. President Rajapaksa, to them, personifies the failure in reconstruction.
Rajapaksa waves to people during his ride on the train 'Queen of Jaffna' from Pallai to Jafna in Pallai. The train was reinstated after 24 years. Rajapaksa’s tenure saw the Lankan economy growing with many infrastructure projects rolled out.
However, charges of corruption and presence of Rajapaksa's brothers in the cabinet led to discontentment. The Sinhalese nationalist was also accused of being an authoritarian ruler and flouting human rights. Muslim parties and groups also had major grievances over the handling of the anti—Muslim violence last year.
While on one hand discontent among Tamils was spreading, on the other his own Cabinet Minister Maithripala Sirisena defected and emerged as a common candidate to fight the polls. “He was having When his own Cabinet Minister Maithripala Sirisena defected and emerged as a common candidate to fight the polls, Rajapaksa was quoted as saying, “He was having hoppers [aappams] with me the previous night, but stabbed me at the back the next morning.”

A look at the eventful political journey of South Asia's longest-serving leader Mahinda Rajapaksa

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