Sri Lanka’s former civil wartime defense chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa was declared the winner in the presidential election on Sunday (November 17), after promising to secure the country against militant threats following Easter bombings this year.
Rajapaksa, who will be sworn into office in an ancient Buddhist temple on Monday (November 18), is the latest nationalist leader to sweep to election victory, tapping into the anger and fears of majority communities.
The election commission said Rajapaksa won 52.25% of the votes in Saturday’s election, while main rival and government housing minister Sajith Premadasa got 41.99%, giving Rajapaksa a far bigger lead than predicted by politicians and analysts.
Millions voted to elect a new president to lead the country out of its deepest economic slump in over 15 years, dragged down by its tourism sector following the bombings on April 21 which killed more than 250 people.
(Production: Waruna Karunatilake, Rosalind Church)