Colombo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday felicitated former wartime defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa for winning the presidential polls in Sri Lanka.
Taking to his Twitter account, Modi said, “Congratulations @GotabayaR on your victory in the Presidential elections. I look forward to working closely with you for deepening the close and fraternal ties between our two countries and citizens, and for peace, prosperity as well as security in our region.” The Indian Prime Minister further congratulated the Sri Lankan people for the successful conduct of the elections, in a tweet.
The Prime Minister’s tweet comes even before the declaration of the official results. Election commission officials had told Al Jazeera that the official results will be out by 4:00 PM on Sunday. However, after the local media reports projected Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the lead with over 50 per cent vote count, the other contender Premadasa conceded the Presidential election.
Having passed the three million vote-count on Sunday, Gotabaya Rajapaksa claimed victory in the presidential election in Sri Lanka, stated news agency AFP. In fact, Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told news agency AFP that Gotabaya Rajapaksa already won the presidency when he secured a clear majority between 53 and 54 per cent of the total votes.
Out of half a million votes counted on early Sunday morning, Rajapaksa secured 52.87 per cent, housing minister Sajith Premadasa secured 39.67 per cent of the votes followed by leftist Anura Kumara Dissanayake with 4.69 per cent, stated the Sri Lanka Election Commission. Notably, a voter turnout of more than 80 per cent was recorded as on November 17 of the total 15.99 million eligible voters for the presidential election in the island nation, added the National Election Commission.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the 70-year-old, is a Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) candidate and brother of two-time former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. On early November 17, during the vote counting, Gotabaya was reported to be leading in most of the Sinhalese areas. Of the total 35 candidates contesting in the elections, the top contenders include a 52-year-old candidate from the ruling New Democratic Front (NDF) party Sajith Premadasa who received support from the minority Tamil community dwelling in the northern and eastern region of Sri Lanka, stated a report. Yet another strong candidate who is contesting in the polls is Anura Kumara Dissanayake from the National People’s Power (NPP) coalition.
The final results of the election were scheduled to be declared by late Sunday. In view of the Presidential election, over 12,000 voting centres were set up across Sri Lanka.