Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) won a total of 106 seats in the 225-member assembly. He fell short of an absolute majority by 7 seats in a closely fought election, but had enough seats to form a government.
“I have got a mandate to put before parliament our plan so that we could arrive at a consensus and build a national framework within which we will do our policy. This new approach requires all parties to work together, either in the government holding ministerial positions or in parliament through the oversight committees,” Wickremesinghe said after his victory.
This will be Wickremesinghe’s fourth term as Prime Minsiter of Sri Lanka. He became PM for the first time in May 1993 when a suicide bomber assassinated President Ranasinghe Premadasa. He got his second chance in 2002, when he was credited with pulling the country out of recession. For the third time, in January 2015 Wickremesinghe was handpicked by President Maithripala Sirisena to lead a minority government after the ouster of president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The poll results shattered the hopes of former two-time President and Sinhala strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa. He was looking for a political comeback after being defeated by Sirisena in the presiential election in January.
This time, Rajapaksa’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) secured only 95 seats. The minority Tamil National Alliance (TNA) picked up 16 seats, sweeping the ethnic Tamil-majority of the Northern and Eastern provinces.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up Ranil Wickremesinghe to congratulate him on his victory.
“Spoke to Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe & congratulated him on his alliance’s wonderful performance in the elections. I am confident that under Mr. Wickremesinghe’s leadership, bilateral ties between India & Sri Lanka will get stronger,” PM Modi tweeted.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also congratulated PM Wickremesinghe.
“The Secretary-General applauds the people of Sri Lanka for their peaceful and broad-based participation in the parliamentary elections of August 17. The Secretary-General encourages the new government to make further progress on good governance, accountability and reconciliation,” said a statement issued by Ban’s spokesperson.