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My dream of becoming prime minister has faded away: Rajapaksa

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R_WickremasingheColombo: Sri Lanka’s ruling UNF led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday claimed victory in the parliamentary polls after former president Mahinda Rajapaksa conceded defeat.

The United National Party (UNP), the key constituent in the country’s minority government, expressed confidence that it would get the numbers in the 225-seat parliament to form the next government.

Minister Karu Jayasuriya, who led the election campaign for his party, said the UNF was confident of winning 105-107 seats and secure the help of friendly parties to form a government.

“We intend to keep our promises and develop the country,” UNP leader John Amaratunga said after netting the Gampaha seat. He said Wickremesinghe would take oath as prime minister later on Tuesday.

It is the first time in 14 years the UNP wrested Gampaha, indicating a major mood swing in the country where Rajapaksa reigned supreme for over a decade until his dramatic loss in the January presidential election this year.

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A sombre Rajapaksa conceded defeat in Monday’s keenly fought elections.

“My dream of becoming the prime minister has faded away,” Rajapaksa told AFP. “I am conceding we have lost a good fight.”

Election officials said the UNP had bagged 11 of the 22 districts from where results were available. The UPFA had won eight while the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main Tamil party, was the victory in three districts in the Tamil-majority northern province.

The UPFA’s victories came from Sinhalese-majority areas including Hambantota, the stronghold of the Rajapaksa family.

But the emerging results showed the UNF had made inroads in the districts where Rajapaksa had the upper hand in the January presidential contest.

The main battle was between the UNF led by Wickremesinghe and the UPFA, which had Rajapaksa as its main candidate.

Both Jaffna and Vanni districts, which saw thousands of deaths in the end stages of armed conflict that ended in 2009, voted for the TNA, which is expected to ally with Wickremesinghe.

Wickremesinghe urged Sri Lankans not to divide themselves as winners and losers and work together as one family for the betterment of Sri Lanka and to introduce a new political culture to the country.

He said in a statement that people had given a mandate for good governance and consensus-based politics.

President Maithripala Sirisena said Monday’s election was one of the most peaceful, free and fair election in the history of Sri Lanka.

(IANS)

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Sri Lanka Warns of Extreme Heat Amid Rising Temperatures

People in several areas in capital Colombo and in the south were warned to take extra precautions when being out in the heat

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Sri Lanka to convert garbage dumps into urban parks
This is a Sri Lankan flag. Sri Lanka to convert garbage dumps into urban parks. wikimedia commons
Sri Lanka’s Meteorology Department on Monday issued an extreme heat advisory as temperatures in several districts across the island country were expected to rise further in the coming days.
The Department, in a statement, cautioned the public to take appropriate precautions to avoid any health-related issues caused by the severe heat condition.
It said that the high level of moisture in the air and low wind speed had been the result of the rising temperatures, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Department warned that the situation would prevail until the beginning of the south-west monsoon in May.
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Image source: youtube.com
The Natural Hazards Early Warning Centre forecasted “extreme caution” levels for most parts of the Northern, North Central and the North Western provinces.
People in several areas in capital Colombo and in the south were warned to take extra precautions when being out in the heat.
“The Department advises the public to remain hydrated and take frequent breaks while also avoid going outside. Children and the elderly should also not be left unattended,” it said. (IANS)