Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday morning conceded defeat in Sri Lanka's bitterly fought general election that could now put a question mark on his political future. But soon after making the comment, Rajapaksa reportedly retracted and said he was not claiming victory or conceding defeat as he had not been officially informed about the results.
But all indicators and analysts following the results said that the Rajapaksa-led alliance was losing to the United National Party (UNP), led by incumbent Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Earlier on Tuesday morning, Rajapaksa said he would work as an opposition member in the 225-member Sri Lankan parliament, which till recently was dominated by his coalition, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
Rajapaksa’s expected second electoral defeat in about seven months – the first shock defeat was in January in the Presidential election – will be a big setback to his political future.
“My dream of becoming prime minister has faded away,” Rajapaksa told the Agence France-Presse news agency. “I am conceding. We have lost a good fight.”
Officially, the results are yet to be declared but according to the former Preident the available results were enough for him to accept the electoral defeat.
“We have won eight districts and the UNP [ruling United National party] has 11 [out of a total of 22],” Rajapaksa said. “This means we have lost. It was a difficult fight.”
President Maithripala Sirisena, who is from the same party as Rajapaksa and has the power to nominate the PM, had said that he would not allow former President to become the PM even if he had won the eletion.
The relation between the two had turned sharply bitter after Sirisena became the joint opposition candidate for President in the Presidential election in January. He went on to win the election, signalling an end to the all-powerful Rajapaksa regime that had ruled Sri Lanka from November, 2009.
The remaining three districts were dominated by the Tamil minority community who are expected to vote for the UNP.
No single party is expected to muster the simple majority of 113 seats in the Parliament.
Mahinda Deshapriya, the head of the Department of Election, told media that he expected the release of the final party positions by midday on Tuesday while individual votes garnered by candidates would be announced later.
He has called the election as one of the most peaceful ever to be held in Sri Lanka.
(With inputs from AFP)