Pakistan felicitates newly-elected Sri Lankan president
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – Pakistan warmly felicitated newly-elected Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on his electoral victory as the 7th President of the country. In a press release on Sunday, the Foreign Office (FO) said Pakistan is confident that under his stewardship, Sri Lanka will continue its journey towards greater prosperity and peace. Pakistan appreciates the conduct of a free, fair and peaceful election by Election Commission and the Government of Sri Lanka. The Government of Pakistan expresses the resolve to further fortify fraternal ties and to take this vital partnership to a new level. Earlier, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the brutal crushing of the Tamil Tigers 10 years ago, stormed to victory Sunday in Sri Lankan presidential elections seven months after Islamist extremist attacks killed 269 people. The retired lieutenant colonel, nicknamed the “Terminator” by his own family, won 53-54 per cent of the vote, his spokesman told AFP as Rajapaksa’s main rival Sajith Premadasa of the ruling party conceded the race. “It is a clear win. We envisaged it. We are very happy that Gota will be the next president. He will be sworn in tomorrow or the day after,” spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said. Rajapaksa, 70, had a 49.6 percent share of the vote with close to six million ballots counted. He is the younger brother of the charismatic but controversial Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was president from 2005-15. Results from Sinhalese-majority regions — the Rajapaksas’ core support base — were expected to push this above 50 percent. Premadasa, 52, of the ruling party was trailing at 44.4 per cent. He had strong support in minority Tamil areas and a poor showing in larger Sinhalese constituencies. Election Commission chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said at least 80 per cent of the 15.99 million eligible voters participated in Saturday’s poll, which was marred by isolated violence that left several people injured. Rajapaksa conducted a nationalist campaign with a promise of security and a vow to crush religious extremism in the Buddhist-majority country following the April 21 suicide bomb attacks blamed on a homegrown jihadi group. Three luxury hotels and three churches were targeted in the coordinated bombings. Daesh also claimed responsibility for the attack, which left 45 foreigners dead. Saturday’s poll was the first popularity test of the United National Party (UNP) government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who stepped aside and allowed his deputy Premadasa to stand in the election.