Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa conceded defeat to his opposition challenger on Friday in national elections, setting the stage for a change of regime in the island nation.
Reuters quoted the president’s office as saying that Rajapaksa had met a leader of the opposition to accept the victory of his challenger, Mithripala Sirisena.
Sirisena, a former minister who deserted Rajapaksa and changed sides to become the opposition’s candidate in November, has vowed to root out corruption and bring constitutional reforms.
Seeking an unprecedented third term, Rajapaksa called the election two years early, confident that the fractured opposition would fail to find a credible candidate.
But he did not anticipate the emergence of Sirisena, who quickly emerged as a formidable rival.
Sirisena is expected to be sworn in later on Friday.
Rajapaksa won handsomely in the last election in 2010, surfing a wave of popularity months after the defeat of ethnic Tamil separatists who had waged a crippling war against the state for decades.
But critics say he had become increasingly authoritarian since becoming president, with several members of his family holding key positions of power.
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