Premadasa concedes to Gotabaya Rajapaksa
Colombo: Sri Lanka's ruling party candidate Sajith Premadasa on Sunday conceded the presidential poll to main opposition leader and former wartime Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who is all set to lead the country for the next five years, months after the Easter Sunday bombings that raised security challenges.
Premadasa, 52, also stepped down as the Deputy Leader of the United National Party (UNP) with immediate effect.
"It is my privilege to honour the people's decision and congratulate Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa on his election," said Premadasa, the ruling United National Party (UNP) candidate.
"I am grateful our citizens who voted for me. I am humbled that you placed your faith in me. Your support has been a fountain of strength throughout my political career," he said on Twitter.
Following the victory, 70-year-old retired lieutenant colonel Rajapaksa urged his supporters to "rejoice peacefully".
"As we usher in a new journey for Sri Lanka, we must remember that all Sri Lankans are part of this journey. Let us rejoice peacefully, with dignity and discipline in the same manner in which we campaigned," the former wartime defence secretary said in a tweet.
Premadasa conceded the presidential election to his rival even before the official results were announced by the Elections Secretariat.
"In light of today's decision by the electorate, I have decided to step down as Deputy Leader of the United National Party (UNP) with immediate effect," he said in a statement.
Rajapaksa stormed ahead of Premadasa in the tightly contested presidential election in the results declared early Sunday morning. The retired lieutenant colonel, who was the top defence ministry bureaucrat for 10 years, swept the poll in the Sinhala majority districts while Premadasa garnered most of the votes from the Tamil dominated north and east of the country.