Colombo (AsiaNews) - Sri Lanka has begun a new chapter in its history: Mahinda Rajapaksa, the controversial former president of the country, was roundly defeated in the general election in which he was nominated for the post of Prime Minister.
Victory went to the United National Party (UNP), which won 11 districts out of 22. Tomorrow morning UNP candidate Ranil Wickremasinghe (pictured) will be sworn in as the new Prime Minister. The United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), Rajapaksa's party, won just eight districts. The remaining three districts were dominated by the Tamil minority party.
In an official statement, Wickremasinghe said: "The people supported the revolution made on January 8 and wants to take it forward. I offer my most sincere thanks to all parties and individuals who have worked tirelessly to ensure the victory of the people. We were able to create a peaceful atmosphere, necessary for the conduct of free and transparent elections ".
The premier added that "the people should not be divided between winners and losers. We must unite together as sons and daughters of our mother nation, to build a new political culture in this country. We must work together to prosper the nation and bring it into a new era. To build a civilized society, a government of consensus, and create a new country with equal opportunities for all ".
Fr Reid Shelton Fernando, a priest and human rights activist, told AsiaNews: "The people, after seeing the collapse of the rule of law and corruption, united to get rid Rajapaksa in January. Instead of retiring, he and his comrades have campaigned vindictively, fomenting ethnic and religious tensions in order to return to power as prime minister. This new defeat has saved the country from another disaster. "