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Sri Lankan Wartime Defence Chief Wins Presidency

Sri Lankan former wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa has won the presidential election after a closely fought race against ruling party candidate Sajith Premadasa.

Official results showed Mr Rajapaksa, 70, took 52.25% of the vote. His rival Sajith Premadasa had already conceded.

“I would like to inform everyone that I will execute everything you trusted in me [to do],” Rajapaksa said at the results announcement, flanked by his brother Mahinda, a former two-time president.

“As we usher in a new journey for Sri Lanka, we must remember that all Sri Lankans are part of this journey,” Rajapaksa said in a Twitter post.

Rajapaksa, a former defence secretary during Mahinda’s 10 years in power, based his campaign for Saturday’s election on providing strong leadership on national security issues, following coordinated¬† bombings ¬†in April that killed 269 people.

Mr Rajapaksa, who has positioned himself as a strong figure who can assure Sri Lankans’ security, is a highly controversial figure among the country’s more than two million Tamils.

He and his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former president, spearheaded the defeat of separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, ending a decades-long war in which at least 100,000 people died.

Rajapaksa took oath as president on Monday at a ceremony in the central town of Anuradhapura, an ancient Sinhala Buddhist heritage site located about 160km (100 miles) north of Colombo.

Mr Premadasa, who took 42% of the vote, publicly conceded when partial results showed Mr Rajapaksa was certain to emerge the winner.

“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.

Turnout was 83.7%, the election commission said.





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