Ex-Sri Lanka president Rajapakse concedes defeat in parliamentary polls

Former Sri Lankan president and parliamentary candidate Mahinda Rajapakse (centre) gestures on his arrival with his family to cast his vote at a polling station in his native town of Tangalla on Aug 17, 2015.
Former Sri Lankan president and parliamentary candidate Mahinda Rajapakse (centre) gestures on his arrival with his family to cast his vote at a polling station in his native town of Tangalla on Aug 17, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapakse said on Tuesday (Aug 18) that he had conceded defeat in parliamentary elections, but would work as an opposition member of parliament.

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

Rajapakse accepted that his United People’s Freedom Alliance 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.

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.

Elections 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.

Deshapriya said the vote, called a year ahead of schedule by President Maithripala Sirisena who ousted the veteran leader in January, 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 United people’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) party and was powerless to prevent Rajapakse from standing as one of its candidates.