28 Jan 2010

Challenger rejects Sri Lanka presidential vote outcome

6:15 am on 28 January 2010

Sri Lanka's president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has been declared the winner of the country's presidential poll, however his main opponent immediately rejected the outcome.

General Sarath Fonseka promised a legal challenge to the result of the ballot, the first since Tamil Tiger rebels were defeated after 25 years of civil war.

The country's Elections Commission declared that Mr Rajapaksa had received 57.8% of votes cast, to 40% for his main rival. The former allies fell out after the war ended last year.

Election day passed largely peacefully despite several minor bomb blasts.

About 14 million voters were eligible to choose between 22 candidates. Turnout was over 60%.

The two-month-long campaign left four people dead and hundreds wounded. Nearly 68,000 police were deployed to protect polling stations.

In an unexpected twist, General Fonseka was not able to vote because his name was not on the register.

State television claimed he has no right to be president. But the Election Commission said there was no legal obstacle to the general assuming the post if he won.