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Gotabaya Rajapaksa Wins Sri Lankan Presidential Election

Sri Lanka’s controversial wartime defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa will lead the country. Rajapaksa, 70, defeated Premadasa, 52, by more than 13 lakh votes, according to the official results.

Rajapaksa, who will succeed President Maithripala Sirisena for a five-year term, will be sworn in as the seventh executive president of Sri Lanka on Monday at the ancient north central town of Anuradhapura.

He will be the second member from the Rajapaksa family to become the president. His older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa was president from 2005 to 2015.

Rajapaksa secured 52.25 per cent votes (6,924,255) while Premadasa received 41.99 per cent of the total votes polled (5,564,239), the election commission said.

Other candidates got 5.76 per cent votes.

Rajapaksa urged his supporters to “rejoice peacefully”.

“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 way we campaigned,” the retired lieutenant colonel said in a tweet.

Rajapaksa had vowed to “restore relations” with Sri Lanka’s top lender, China, if he wins the election, despite international concerns over the island nation’s financial debt to the Asian superpower.

Premadasa, meanwhile, was considered leaning more towards India and the US.

He conceded the presidential election to his rival even before the official results were announced and stepped down as the Deputy Leader of the ruling United National Party (UNP) with immediate effect.

“It is my privilege to honour the people’s decision and congratulate Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa on his choice,” Premadasa said.

“I am grateful our citizens who voted for me. I am humbled that you placed your faith in me. Your support has been a fountain of strength throughout my political career,” he said on Twitter.

Rajapaksa, who was the top defence ministry bureaucrat for 10 years, swept the poll in the Sinhala most districts while Premadasa garnered most of the votes from the Tamil dominated north and east and Muslim community, including the tea plantation workers of Indian origin

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