President Mahinda Rajapaksa (UPFA) was elected as the Sixth Executive President of Sri Lanka by a massive majority of over 1.8 million votes on Tuesday. He polled a total of 6,015,934 votes as against his closest rival Retired General Sarath Fonseka of the New Democratic Front who polled 4,173,185 votes.
President Rajapaksa led in 17 out of 22 electoral districts gaining 57.88 percent of the votes polled. This is a substantial ratio polled in a Presidential election in Sri Lanka. His rival Sarath Fonseka led in five districts, mostly in the North and East of the country.
As soon as they heard of the unassailable lead taken by President Rajapaksa, people throughout the country came onto the streets and celebrated lighting crackers, preparing and feeding the public with milk rice and sweets, playing the rabana and dancing with joy.
This historic victory confounded all critics and analysts who predicted a close finish to the Presidential race. But what unfolded was a virtual no contest.
The President overran many bastions of the UNP recording mind boggling majorities. This despite his rival s claim to have the support of the broadest coalition of groups and political parties. Long standing pocket boroughs of the UNP such as Senkadagala, Mahiyangana and Mawanella were comfortably won by President Rajapaksa.
The President topped the 30,000 majority mark in many electorates, Attanagalla, Gampaha, Mahara and Homagama among them. In most instances the majority eclipsed the number of votes polled by the common candidate. The highest majority 174,168 was recorded in the Ratnapura district.
Another significant feature of the election was the inability of the common candidate to poll even the number of votes obtained by Ranil Wickremesinghe at the last Presidential election without the support of the JVP. The victory is considered as a tribute to the signal service rendered by President Rajapaksa in eliminating terrorism from Sri Lankan soil and unifying the motherland after almost three decades.
It was also an endorsement of his unwavering commitment to safeguard the sovereignty of the country in the face of numerous pressures from major powers and international organisations during the course of the humanitarian operation that was successfully concluded last May.
It is to the credit of the intelligent voters that they were not swayed away by numerous promises and material benefits and were wise enough to understand the dangers inherent in handing over the reigns of power to an autocratically inclined military officer with no experience of democratic governance.
Instead they preferred to go along with a known leader who for 40 years has proved his democratic credentials in practice and was readily accessible to them.