US Secretary of State John Kerry (AFP Photo)
Washington, United States:
US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Sri Lanka on Thursday for "successful" elections and commended its president for conceding defeat.
Kerry said the Sri Lankan people "deserve great credit" for the smooth polling, which saw voters turn out peacefully in large numbers to elect opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena.
President Mahinda Rajapakse, Asia's longest-serving leader, conceded defeat in Sri Lanka on Friday, after a bitter campaign in which he faced allegations of corruption and a failure to bring about post-war reconciliation.
"I commend President Rajapakse for accepting the results of the election in the proud tradition of peaceful and orderly transfers of power in Sri Lanka," Kerry said.
Kerry had earlier this week urged Rajapakse to ensure a violence-free and credible election following opposition reports that he was mobilizing the military.
"The United States applauds the Sri Lankan Elections Commissioner, the security forces, Sri Lankan civil society, and the candidates themselves for making sure this election was not marred by unrest and for ensuring a significant drop in campaign-related violence," Kerry said in a statement.
Rajapakse's "words tonight about accepting the verdict of the people and moving forward are important."
Official sources said Sirisena, a former minister who united a fractured opposition to pull off an unlikely victory, had an unassailable lead in results.
Kerry said he looked forward to working with Sirisena "as his new government works to implement its campaign platform of a Sri Lanka that is peaceful, inclusive, democratic, and prosperous."
Despite sporadic campaign violence including the death of one opposition party worker, the vote passed off largely peacefully.
"The Sri Lankan people deserve great credit on the successful conclusion of their elections," Kerry said.
"They turned out in great numbers to exercise their democratic rights and every vote was a victory for Sri Lanka."