World

Lankans change Leadership, Prez Mahinda Rajapaksa concedes Defeat

Colombo, Jan 09: In a big jolt to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, he was defeated in the country's presidential election to the opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena .

Following the results, Rajapaksa left his official residence Temple Trees bowing to the people's mandate in the presidential election. The final result is yet to be declared. However, Sirisena is expected to win by around 4, 00,000 votes.

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 Rajapaksa's office said.

Sri Lankans yesterday voted in large numbers in the bitterly contested presidential election in the biggest political shake-up in over a decade. The voter turnout was more than 65-70 per cent in many places.

There were 19 candidates in the fray. But the main fight was between two-term president 69-year-old Rajapaksa and his 63-year-old former cabinet colleague Sirisena.

Rajapaksa had called the election two years ahead of schedule, hoping to win a record third six-year term before the defeat of the Tamil Tigers fades in the memory of the people of the island which saw a three decades war over the demand of a separate Tamil Eelam.

The veteran politician was taken by surprise by the candidacy of former health minister Sirisena, who walked out of the government a day after polls were called. That set off a wave of political turmoil and energised a long-dispirited opposition that had not been looking forward to the election.

Rajapaksa was the undisputed leader of Lanka for nearly a decade. But the country is grappling with divisions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority groups.

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