Sri Lanka’s ex-Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who helped defeat Tamil Tiger separatists has been elected Presidentin a deeply polarized vote backed by mainly Sinhalese voters in the South of the country.
Rajapaksa won 6,924,255 or 52.25 percent of the vote beating Sajith Premadasa who polled 5,564,239 or 41.99 percent.
Rajapaksa’s brother ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa is expected to be prime minister in a Gotabaya administration.
In the deep Sinhala south of the country, Rajapaksa, polled double the votes of his rival Sajith Premadasa from the United National Party led National Democratic Party.
In Premadasa’s home district of Hambantota, Rajapaksa polled 66 percent to Premadasa’s 25 percent.
In the neighboring Matara District, Rajapaksa polled 67 percent, and Premadasa 26 percent.
In Galle, Gotabaya polled 64 percent to 29 percent.
In the northern Tamil dominated Jaffna province Premadasa polled 83.6 percent and Gotabaya 6.24 percent. In the nearby Vanni district, Premadasa polled 82 percent and Gotabaya 12.2 percent.
“I feel so sad for this country,” Economic Reforms Minister Harsha de Silva said. “There is such division in this country.
“Never have we had so many in the north, so little in the South.”
Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Party has pushed a hardline Sinhala Buddhist line.
Attacks on hotels and churches by Islamist suicide bombers in April 2019, despite a warning by India, in a serious security lapse, had hit the economy and tourism.
It also raised resentment against Muslims, whose property was attacked soon after the bombings.
But Nivard Cabraal, Central Bank governor in the last Rajapaksa administration says part of the party’s policy team will look at the numbers and provide solutions.
“We are at the moment examining the voting patterns of different districts we would take into consideration the messages that emanate from those patterns as well,” he said.
On top of the Easter bombings, Sri Lanka is also reeling from two currency crises, and an output shock.
Premadasa conceding defeat said he is stepping down from his position as Deputy Leader.
Harin Fernando from the Uva province, where he won a local election that eventually helped propel Premadasa’s United National Party to power in 2015 also stepped down from party positions.
The administration which came to power promising good governance but was embroiled in a bondscam involving an associate of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was only forced out months later by President Sirisena.