Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa at first conceded defeat but later rowed back, saying instead that he was unlikely to be prime minister, as figures began to come in following parliamentary elections on Monday night. Electoral authorities said the vote was orderly; however there were fears that if Rajapaksa won a mandate to be prime minister it could trigger a prolonged power struggle with the president, Maithripala Sirisena, who has said he will not appoint him regardless of the outcome. Sirisena defeated Rajapaksa to become president in a January 2015 election. “My dream of becoming prime minister has faded away,” Rajapaksa initially told the Agence France-Presse news agency on Monday night. “I am conceding. We have lost a good fight.” But speaking later to the Reuters news agency he was less definite, saying only that he was unlikely to lead the next government.
Sri Lanka has a mixed electoral structure that includes multiple-member districts using proportional representation, as well as a “list” system that gives each party extra parliamentary seats based on their vote across the whole country. There are 225 members, so any party or coalition must win at least 113 seats to form a government.
The elections commissioner, Mahinda Deshapriya, said he expected the release of the final party positions by midday on Tuesday while individual votes garnered by candidates would be announced later.
Rajapaksa did secure a seat in the 225-member parliament by standing in the north-western district of Kurunegala, after ditching his home constituency of Hambantota.