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Rajapaksa wins
Published on 28 Jan. 2010 12:35 AM IST
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Mahinda Rajapaksa, who defied the odds to vanquish the Tamil Tigers last year, was Wednesday re-elected Sri Lankan president with a thumping majority as the opposition cried foul and main challenger Gen Sarath Fonseka found himself under siege with his hotel surrounded by the army. Rajapaksa defeated the former army chief by a handsome margin. Rajapaksa won 5.5 million votes, or 57.81 percent of the total vote, while Fonseka got 40.21 percent, according to a tally of the results announced so far. “The president’s victory has been secured,” said an official from the Presidential Secretariat. A statement purportedly issued by Fonseka’s office alleged that the election had been systematically rigged. “All the election results released so far have been manipulated. Do not trust the results being presented to you as election results. These are not official results,” the statement said. As the vote count was on in the first presidential election since the Tamil Tigers were crushed after 26 years of bloody war, heavily armed soldiers took up positions at the Cinnamon Lakeside hotel where their former chief Fonseka was staying. “We can see about 200 army personnel outside the hotel, but they have not come into the hotel so far,” a witness at the scene told DPA. The hotel is one of the five-star hotels in Colombo adjoining the air force headquarters. Responding to intense speculation, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakakra said that there were no attempts to arrest Fonseka. “We have information that there are as many as 400 former army soldiers,” said Nanayakakra. “We want to check about their presence and whether they want to create any problems.” Fonseka, who commanded the army to crush the rebels, told NewsX channel: “...Their (Sri Lankan government) plan is to deploy troops around my house, my office, the broadcasting corporation, the national television station and if he (President Rajapaksa) loses, the instruction he gave to army commanders and the security council, is to take me into custody and he will not hand over the power.” “Yeah... they have already surrounded ... this is part of that operation … that’s why we left our house, residence and office and came here … all the opposition leaders … they are threatening my security peoples and they have tried to enter the hotel, we managed to push them back.” Commenting on his fear of assassination, he said: “I am not afraid, but I know that is their plan… we will fight back” PM, president fete Felicitating Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on his re-election, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday expressed hope that the island country will now find “lasting peace where all communities can live with dignity and in harmony”. Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil sent separate congratulatory messages to Rajapaksa. Manmohan Singh telephoned Rajapaksa and expressed the hope that “Sri Lanka will find lasting peace where all communities can live with dignity and in harmony.” In her message, Patil recalled the close and friendly relations between the two countries and conveyed India’s “commitment to work with Sri Lanka to further deepen our bilateral relations”.

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