Sri Lanka presidential polls: Rajapaksa claims victory as Premadasa concedes defeat
Gotabaya Rajapaksa has claimed victory in the Sri Lankan presidential polls and his main opponent Sajith Premadasa of the ruling United National Party has conceded defeat, even as the official results are yet to be announced.
After local media reported that Rajapaksa won 53-54 per cent of the vote, Premadasa issued a statement on Sunday, "At the conclusion of a hard-fought and spirited election campaign, it is my privilege to honour the decision of the people and congratulate Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa on his election as the seventh President of Sri Lanka."
Official results were due to be released by 4:00 pm local time (10:30 GMT) on Sunday, election commission officials told Al Jazeera. Local media projections, however, put Rajapaksa in the lead with roughly six million votes counted across the country.
Rajapaksa, who has been credited for having crushed the Tamil Tigers 10 years ago, focused his campaign on his credentials as the defence secretary that brought a close to the bloody 26-year civil war, while also calling for an overhaul of economic policies implemented by Premadasa's UNP during its five years in charge of parliament.
To win, a candidate has to secure at least 50% + one vote in the first round of counting, Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya had said.
Rajapaksa, a former defence secretary and brother of two-time former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, based his campaign for on providing strong leadership on national security issues, following coordinated bombings in April that killed at least 269 people.