Ex-Sri Lanka leader Rajapakse concedes election defeat


COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s former strongman Mahinda Rajapakse told AFP that he has conceded defeat in parliamentary elections after a close fought comeback attempt just months after he was toppled as president.

“My dream of becoming prime minister has faded away,” Rajapakse told AFP. “I am conceding. We have lost a good fight.”

Rajapakse accepted that his United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) had lost even before Elections Chief Mahinda Deshapriya 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, although final tallies had not yet been officially declared.

Three other districts in the country were dominated by a minority Tamil party which is friendlier towards the UNP.

No party appears to have secured an absolute majority of 113 seats in the 225-member parliament, which will force the new government to seek out smaller allies.

Election Commissioner Deshapriya said he expected the release of the final party positions by midday Tuesday, while individual votes garnered by candidates would be announced later.

When Rajapakse cast his ballot on Monday, he expressed confidence that he could return to power as Sri Lanka’s prime minister just months after he was toppled as president, but he admitted a loss early as he had in the presidential elections at the beginning of the year.

“There were some who criticised me then for conceding so early in the count, but I did it because it was the right thing to do,” Rajapakse said of the January polls. “This time too we have lost.”

Source: AFP

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