Gotabaya Rajapaksa wins Sri Lanka Presidential election

Sri Lanka’s former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has won the Presidential election. He is the brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Gotabaya got 52.25 per cent of the total valid votes. According to the final vote count released by the country’s Election commission, he received around 6.9 million votes against his main rival, Sajith Premadasa who got around 5.56 million votes. Premadasa has conceded defeat and congratulated Gotabaya on his victory.

Gotabaya will be sworn in as the new President tomorrow. He served as the Defence Secretary during the end of the LTTE War. In a message, he called for a new journey for Sri Lanka, adding that all Sri Lankans are part of this journey. He got overwhelming support in majority-dominated areas of south and western provinces. He said he is the President of not only those who voted for him but for all Sri Lankans and it is the greatest honour of his life.

Sajith Premadasa received wide support from minority areas in north and east. After his defeat, Premadasa resigned from the post of deputy leader of the United National Party led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Meanwhile, Mahinda Rajapaksa has hinted at a change of government following the election results. In a message, the former President said in the face of unequivocal people’s mandate, they believe the government will abide by parliamentary traditions as appropriate in such circumstances. Sri Lanka People’s party (SLPP) led by Mr Rajapaksa, had made it clear before the elections that they expect government under Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to step down in event of their victory. The former President has also claimed that the Presidential elections will be seen as a referendum ahead of the Parliamentary election next year.

At least four ministers, including finance minister Mangala Samaraweera, have resigned after the defeat of Sajith Premadasa at the elections. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in a message said a decision on the next general election will be taken after a discussion with the Speaker, party leaders and government MPs. He has called a special Cabinet meeting this evening to discuss the future of the current government.

As the dust of Presidential elections, settles in Sri Lanka, talks have begun for change in government and holding of parliamentary elections. MR. Gotabaya’s party, led by his brother and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had made it clear that they expect PM Ranil Wickremesinghe to step down in event of Mr Gotabaya’s victory.

Several ministers of Wickremesinghe government allied with Gotabaya’s rival Sajith Premadasa have already resigned. But PM Wickremesinghe has not hinted of resigning, instead, he issued a statement saying general elections will be decided after discussion with the speaker and government MPs. It has to be seen what decision the new President takes after his swearing-in tomorrow.

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