PM Wickremesinghe set for a 2nd term in Sri Lanka

RSTV Bureau

Colombo: Supporters of Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe light fire-crackers as the voting concludes during parliamentary elections in Colombo.

Counting is underway for the parliamentary polls in Sri Lanka. But initial results say that former President and Sinhala strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) is trailing. PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) is said to be much ahead, and appears close to a simple majority.

According to initial results, the UNP appears to have won at least 11 of the 22 electoral districts with the rival UPFA winning 8 districts.

“I invite all of you to join hands. Let us together build a civilised society, build a consensual government and create a new country,” said PM Wickremesinghe in a statement as the count neared completion.

After there were reports that Rajapaksa conceded defeat, the two-time former President’s twitter handle said, “Mahinda Rajapaksa hasn’t yet received official final results of #GenElecSL to accept victory or concede defeat.”

Although the final result is yet to be announced, election authorities said the UNP may fall short of a simple majority of 113 in the 225-member assembly.

The UNP has reportedly gained votes in most polling divisions while the UPFA lost votes in comparison with the presidential election held in January.

The UPFA’s big victory margins in January presidential elections, however, have not been affected by the UNP’s gains or the votes that have gone to the Marxist JVP or the People’s Liberation Front.

In the North Tamil districts, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) appears to have made a clean sweep.

Early results have shown that TNA has won the Jaffna district, collecting close to 60 per cent of the votes.

196 members will be elected for a five-year term while 29 will be appointed based on the national proportion of votes polled by each party.

Just two days ahead of the polls, President Maithripala Sirisena of the UPFA had vowed not to make Rajapaksa premier even if his UPFA wins a majority.

69-year-old Rajapaksa was the Sri Lankan President twice since 2005. No other Sri Lankan president stood for the parliament polls after demitting presidency.

Sirisena was Rajapaksa’s Health Minister until he came forward as the opposition unity candidate to challenge the then president last year.

Sirisena faced immediate sacking from the party only to be handed the party leadership when he defeated Rajapaksa in the January presidential election.

(With inputs from PTI)