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January 19, 2021
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Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa set to win presidency

Ruling party candidate Sajith Premadasa congratulates his main rival for victory in hard-fought election.

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Gotabaya Rajapaksa waves to his supporters during an election campaign rally in Bandaragama [Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters]
Gotabaya Rajapaksa waves to his supporters during an election campaign rally in Bandaragama [Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters]

Colombo, Sri Lanka – Gotabaya Rajapaksa is set to win the Sri Lankan presidency after a closely fought election, as his main opponent Sajith Premadasa of the ruling United National Party conceded defeat.

Rajapaksa, a former defence secretary and brother of two-time former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, based his campaign for Saturday’s vote on providing strong leadership on national security issues, following coordinated bombings in April that killed at least 269 people.

“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,” Premadasa said in a statement on Sunday.

Official results were due to be released by 4:00pm 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 Sri Lanka.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Rajapsaka said that “even though the official results are not out yet, we are now crossing the victory line”.

“As we usher in a new journey for Sri Lanka, we must remember that all Sri Lankans are part of this journey. Let us rejoice peacefully, with dignity and discipline in the same manner in which we campaigned.”

Keheliya Rambukwella, spokesman for Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, said national security is Rajapaksa’s “primary concern”, along with the revival of the economy.

“We are almost 600,000 votes ahead [and] we are certain that we will lead with 800,000 to one million votes,” he added.

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