Former Sri Lankan defence chief Rajapaksa to become president after rival concedes electoral defeat

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Sri Lanka's former wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa was set to become president after his main rival conceded defeat on Sunday in an election that came months after bombings by Islamist militants threw thecountry into turmoil.


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Rajapaksa, who oversaw the military defeat of Tamil separatists under his brother and then president Mahinda
Rajapaksa 10 years ago, has promised strong leadership to secure the island of 22 million people, the majority of whom are Sinhalese Buddhists.

With half the votes counted from Saturday's election, Rajapaksa led with 50.7 percent, while his main rival Sajith
Premadasa had 43.8 percent, the election commission said. Rajapaksa's party claimed victory.

Premadasa, a housing minister in the current government that has faced criticism for failing to protect Sri Lankans in the wake of the suicide bombings in April, conceded defeat.

"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.

Millions voted to elect a new president to lead the country out of its deepest economic slump in over 15 years, dragged down by its tourism sector following the bombings.

Rajapaksa would be the latest nationalist leader swept to power across the world, tapping into anger and fears of majority communities.

His victory margin showed huge support in the Sinhalese-dominated sRead More – Source