Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the ruthless crushing of the LTTE militants stormed to victory on Sunday in Sri Lanka’s presidential elections.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa – the retired lieutenant colonel, nicknamed the “Terminator” by his own family, won 53-54 per cent of the vote, his spokesman told AFP as Rajapaksa’s main rival Sajith Premadasa of the ruling party conceded the race.
“It is a clear win. We envisaged it. We are very happy that Gota will be the next president. He will be sworn in tomorrow or the day after,” spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.
Rajapaksa, 70, had a 49.6pc share of the vote with close to six million ballots counted. He is the younger brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was president from 2005-15. Results from Sinhalese-majority regions — the Rajapaksas’ core support base — were expected to push this above 50pc.
Premadasa, 52, of the ruling party, was trailing at 44.4pc. He had strong support in minority Tamil areas and a poor showing in larger Sinhalese constituencies.
Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said at least 80pc of the 15.99 million eligible voters participated in Saturday’s poll, which was marred by isolated violence that left several people injured.
Rajapaksa conducted a nationalist campaign with a promise of security and a vow to crush religious extremism in the Buddhist-majority country following the April 21 suicide bomb attacks blamed on a homegrown jihadi group.
Saturday’s poll was the first popularity test of the United National Party (UNP) government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who stepped aside and allowed his deputy Premadasa to stand in the election.