However, with only one of 22 districts having declared, the shape of the next parliament remains unclear and Rajapaksa’s comments to Reuters stopped short of an outright concession.
“I have got a mandate to put our plan before Parliament, so that we could arrive at a consensus and build a national framework within which we will do our politics”, he said.
Rajapaksa’s hopes for a dramatic comeback appear to be fading seven months after he lost power to President Maithripala Sirisena.
A group of Sirisena supporters is likely to join a broad- based national unity government led by Wickremesinghe, who was appointed as Premier soon after Sirisena came into power.
Wickremesinghe, wearing white shirtsleeves and grey slacks as he waded through a pack of reporters to vote in Colombo, said he was confident of beating Rajapaksa.
Yet he has moved only belatedly to assert his control over the SLFP and thwart the ambitions of his erstwhile ally and party rival to become Sri Lanka’s next prime minister.
Wickremesinghe had described Monday’s vote as a referendum on Rajapakse, who was bullish about his chances on polling day, but admitted on Tuesday it had been a “difficult fight”.
National list slots for each party are expected to be announced once the preferential votes for each candidate is discussed by the parties. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said 35 people were arrested countrywide for election law violations.Rajapaksa was hailed a warrior king for defeating Tamil Tiger separatists to end a almost 26-year civil war.
The incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, 66, claimed victory in the general elections held on Monday after Rajapaksa conceded defeat.
Rajapakse secured a seat in parliament by standing for the north-western district of Kurunegala after ditching his home constituency of Hambantota.
Sri Lanka’s United National Front (UNF) secured a clean win over the opposition United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in the parliamentary polls.
The New York Times welcomed the outcome emphasising that it had “significant geopolitical ramifications”, explaining: “As president, Mr. Rajapakse aggressively courted China, building economic and military ties that alarmed India and the United States”.
Sirisena defected from Rajapaksa’s government and formed an alliance with Wickremesinghe to defeat Rajapaksa in the presidential election.
Sirisena was force to grand nominations to former president due to the pressure inside the party, but openly stated his disgust over Rajapaksa’s return. “The election results are a testament to the trust and confidence that Sri Lankans have in your leadership and commitment to foster the progress of your beloved nation”.