Tamil Diplomat

Mahinda Rajapaksa concedes defeat in Sri Lanka elections

Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa has conceded defeat in parliamentary elections but said he would work as an opposition member of the legislature.

“My dream of becoming prime minister has faded away,” Rajapaksatold the Agence France-Presse news agency. “I am conceding. We have lost a good fight.”

Rajapaksa accepted that his United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) had lost even before the elections chief could announce the final results.

“We have won eight districts and the UNP [ruling United National party] has 11 [out of a total of 22],” Rajapakse said. “This means we have lost. It was a difficult fight.”

Official figures showed the same breakdown of results.

The remaining three districts were dominated by a minority Tamil party, officials said, adding that no party was set to secure an absolute majority of 113 seats in the 225-member parliament following Monday’s election.

The elections commissioner, Mahinda Deshapriya, said he expected the release of the final party positions by midday on Tuesday while individual votes garnered by candidates would be announced later.

When Rajapaksa cast his ballot on Monday he expressed confidence that he couldreturn to power as Sri Lanka’s prime minister after losing the presidency in a January 2015 election.

Deshapriya said the vote, called a year ahead of schedule by President Maithripala Sirisena, had been one of the most peaceful in Sri Lanka’s history.

Since his surprise victory over his former mentor Sirisena has struggled to impose his authority over his UPFA party and was powerless to prevent Rajapaksa from standing as one of its candidates.

Rajapaksa received 47.58% of the vote in January’s presidential elections, beaten by former ally Sirisena, who was supported by the then opposition United National Party (UNP). Sirisena is actually a member of the UPFA. (The Guardian)