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Victorious Sri Lanka PM urges unity after election


Ranil-WickremesingheSri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe welcomed “the victory of the people” Tuesday and appealed for unity after an election which seems certain to return his United National Party (UNP) to power.

While stopping short of proclaiming victory for his party in Monday’s legislative elections, Wickremesinghe said the outcome was an endorsement of the “January 8 revolution”, referring to the defeat of long-time leader Mahinda Rajapakse in a presidential poll.

Rajapakse had been hoping to make a comeback as prime minister but has already conceded defeat, telling AFP that the UNP had an unassailable lead even though the results have yet to be declared.

“I thank all those who worked for the victory of the people,” Wickremesinghe said in a statement.

“It is not necessary to divide the people as winners and losers. I urge all to unite and help build our nation.

“Let us build a decent society. Let us work with consensus,” added Wickremesinghe, who became prime minister after Maithripala Sirisena’s victory over Rajapakse in the presidential election.

A top aide to the prime minister said the statement amounted to a de facto declaration of victory but he did not want to strike a triumphalist tone.

“He wants to play it down because the thrust of the new government is inclusiveness, unity and reconciliation,” the aide told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“This is not the time to hurt anyone’s feelings. We don’t want a situation where our supporters go overboard after what is possibly the most peaceful election in the history of our country.”

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