Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s comeback attempt is blocked by voters, as the parliamentary election results announced on Tuesday show that the governing United National Party (UNP) is able to form a stable government after eight months of minority rule.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's centre-right party won 106 seats, beating Rajapaksa’s United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) that has won 95 seats.
This is not an outright majority for the UNP, but enough to control the parliament with support of other political parties.
“There should not be a division amongst people as winners and losers,” Wickremesinghe said in a statement.
“We should get together as the sons and daughters of our motherland to the task of building a new political culture in this country.”
The election battle was mainly between Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe. The UNP leader has the support of President Maithripala Sirisena, who had defeated Rajapaksa in the January presidential elections.
On his Twitter account Rajapaksa had said he refused to “accept victory or concede defeat” before the election commission’s announcement, but prior to that AFP had reported the former president saying “My dream of becoming prime minister has faded away. I am conceding. We have lost a good fight.”
The general elections have been seen more like a referendum on whether Rajapaksa was going to return to politics after ruling the country for almost a decade.
The Sri Lankan legislature contains 225 seats, so the final representation will be decided when 29 national seats are allocated by proportional representation.