South Asia

Sri Lanka election: Rajapaksa concedes defeat

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa. File photo  

Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa conceded defeat, said his official media unit on Friday, following clear signs of his opponent Maithripala Sirisena’s victory in the presidential elections. Mr. Sirisena polled 51.28 per cent of total votes, while Mr. Rajapaksa secured 47.58 per cent of the total votes polled.

Following what may be Sri Lanka’s watershed election, Mr. Rajapaksa vacated Temple Trees, his official residence in Colombo’s sea-facing Galle Road early Friday. He assured Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe of a smooth transition in an early morning meeting at the President’s home. “President had talks with the main opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and conveyed his wish to let the new President take over without any hindrance”, a statement from Mr. Rajapaksa’s office said.

Party Votes Percentage
NDF (Maithripal Sirisena) 6,217,162 51.28%
UPFA (Mahinda Rajapaksa) 5,768,090 47.58%
Other 138,201 1.14%

Watch video: Mahinda Rajapaksa concedes defeat in Sri Lanka's presidential election

Mahinda Rajapaksa tweeted:

Maithripala Sirisena will be sworn in as Sri Lanka's new president on Friday, an opposition spokesman said. "The swearing in will be at 6:00 pm today (January 9) at Independence Square" in Colombo, spokesman Saman Athaudahetti.

While sections in Sri Lanka hoped for this election outcome, his defeat was least expected even two months ago. Mr. Rajapaksa called snap polls in November, two years ahead of schedule, targeting a record third term in office.

Hailed for his efforts in crushing the rebel Tigers and brining Sri Lanka’s brutal war to an end, Mr. Rajapaksa was widely perceived as an invincible leader for most part of his two successive terms, until sections began getting disenchanted over his family’s alleged dominance, allegations of corruption and growing authoritarianism.

> Also read: All you need to know about Maithripala Sirisena

The Tamil and Muslim minorities, too, reportedly grew disillusioned of the President. A series of anti-Muslim attacks in the last couple of years carried out by groups with alleged state patronage further alienated the Muslims. That also explains the high percentage of anti-Rajapaksa votes polled in the island’s Muslim-dominated Eastern Province, going by emerging polls trends.

Modi greets Sirisena

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Maithripala Sirisena to congratulate him. He congratulated the people of Sri Lanka on the peaceful and democratic poll process.

“India is a close friend and neighbour of Sri Lanka,” said Mr. Modi, reaffirming India’s continued solidarity and support for Sri Lanka’s peace, development and prosperity.

"Let's move towards a compassionate Maithree era," Mr. Sirisena posted on his website

According to local media reports, a huge voter turnout, said to be nearly 80 per cent, was reported in Hambantota and Matara in southern Sri Lanka, where incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa enjoys a strong support base. Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, where his principal challenger Maithripala Sirisena is hugely popular, saw a similarly high voter-presence at polling booths.

(With inputs from Agencies)

Pre-election analysis: Rajapaksa's waning influence

Sirisena: Views & Pledges

  • Colombo opposition takes anti-China stand >Read more
  • Sirisena for equal ties with India, says his policy will take into consideration the diversity of India >Read more
  • Sirisena pledges war crime inquiry, said Sri Lanka has not ratified the statute that established the international court, and that he would institute an investigation by a local independent court >Read more
  • Sirisena opposes proposal from Tamil leaders for a federal model granting greater autonomy to Provinces to solve the country’s decades-long ethnic conflict >Read more
  • Sirisena said he would not withdraw troops from the island’s Tamil-majority north, as national security would be of top priority to him “as President”. >Read more
>Read more » >Read more » >Read more »

>Rajapaksa can no longer count on rural Sinhala vote bank

Rajapaksa’s appeal among the rural Sinhalese population cannot be underestimated. However, with Maithripala Sirisena crossing over, there is a likely split in the rural vote base

>In Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, an anti-Rajapaksa wave

Rajapaksa has failed in post-war reconciliation, Tamils feel

>Disillusioned kingmakers: Sri Lankan Muslims may choose opposition

Speculation began when all Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader and Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen made an unexpected exit from the government.

Sri Lanka Presidential polls: Full Coverage

People's verdict: Rajapaksa concedes defeat >Read here

In pictures: A look at the eventful political journey of South Asia's longest-serving leader Mahinda Rajapaksa >Read here

World reacts: Politicos and commentators reacted as clear signs of Maithripala Sirisena's victory in the Sri Lanka Presidential elections started to emerge. Here's what they had to say >Read here

In depth: All you need to know about Maithripala Sirisena >Read here

Timeline: A look into the political history of the island nation from 1956. >Read here

Commentaries: With Maithripala Sirisena recording a resounding victory, we have a few commentators who have voiced their views regarding the people's mandate >Read here

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2021 12:51:12 AM |

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