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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Mahinda Rajapaksa concedes defeat in Sri Lankan elections - then changes his mind

Mahinda Rajapaksa concedes defeat in Sri Lankan elections - then changes his mind

Maithripala Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa
Maithripala Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa
Picture: AFP/Getty

Vote was seen as a referendum on former strongman's popularity and his comeback after being dumped out of power in January

Mahinda Rajapakse, Sri Lanka's former president, conceded defeat in parliamentary elections on Monday night, before changing his mind and saying nothing had been decided.
The election was billed as a referendum on former presidential strongman's political comeback.
"My dream of becoming prime minister has faded away," Mr Rajapakse told AFP. "I am conceding. We have lost a good fight."
Supporters of Mahinda Rajapaksa attend a campaign rally in Kandy
He appeared to accept that his United People's Freedom Alliance had lost even before Mahinda Deshapriya, the elections chief, could announce the final results.
"We have won eight districts and the UNP (ruling United National Party) has 11 (out of a total of 22)," he said. "This means we have lost. It was a difficult fight."
However, minutes later he apparently changed his mind.

Final party positions are due by midday Tuesday, while individual votes garnered by candidates would be announced later.
He and his close relatives face a swath of corruption investigations, but he remains a fiercely popular figure with many Sinhalese for ruthlessly crushing the Tamil Tiger insurgency.
Since his surprise victory over his former mentor, Mr Sirisena has struggled to impose his authority over his United people's Freedom Alliance party and was powerless to prevent Mr Rajapakse from standing as one of its candidates.
Mr Deshapriya said the vote, called a year ahead of schedule by President Maithripala Sirisena who ousted the veteran leader in January, had been one of the most peaceful in Sri Lanka's history.