Sri Lanka election: Ex-defence chief Rajapaksa set to win vote

Sri Lanka’s former wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa looks set to win a presidential election that has split the country along ethnic lines.

Official results are not confirmed but Mr Rajapaksa claimed victory and his rival Sajith Premadasa conceded.

Analysts say Mr Rajapaksa was the clear victor in Sinhalese majority areas while Mr Premadasa scored better in the Tamil-dominated north.

The election is Sri Lanka’s first since a deadly terror attack in April.

Militants linked to the Islamic State group targeted churches and high-end hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, killing more than 250 people.

With about half the votes counted, Mr Rajapaksa led with just over 50% while Mr Premadasa had 43%, election commission officials said. Turnout was at least 80%.

Mr Rajapaksa’s spokesman said he expected to win with 53-54% of the final vote and Mr Premadasa then publicly conceded.

“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,” Mr Premadasa said.

In a statement on Twitter, Mr Rajapaksa made a call for national unity saying “all Sri Lankans are part of this journey”.

An official result is expected by 16:00 local time (10:30 GMT) on Sunday, the election commission told the BBC.

If Mr Rajapaksa’s victory is…

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