Sri Lanka's prime minister defeated the country's former strongman in parliamentary elections, according to results released Tuesday, blocking his attempted political comeback.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said a majority of the people endorsed what he called his administration's good governance and consensual politics in Monday's elections.
"I offer my grateful thanks to all parties and individuals who worked untiringly during the election period to ensure victory for the people," Wickremesinghe said in a statement.
Official results showed his United National Party won 106 out of 225 seats in Parliament, while the United People's Freedom Alliance, which includes former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his allies, secured 95.
Rajapaksa was attempting a comeback after his shocking loss to Maithripala Sirisena, a member of his own party, in January's presidential election. Rajapaksa was the country's president for nine years and was attempting to return to power as prime minister, a position second only to the president.
The Tamil National Alliance swept the ethnic Tamil-majority northern and eastern provinces with 16 seats in Monday's balloting. Smaller parties won the remaining seats. A political party or a coalition must have at least 113 seats to form a government, meaning Wickremesinghe will have to seek some support from other parties.
In Sri Lanka the prime minister acts for the president when he is absent and replaces him if he is impeached, is incapacitated or dies. The president has wide executive powers and usually holds the defense, the foreign relations and sometimes the finance portfolios. The prime minister heads lawmaking and has some governance powers.
Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said Monday's elections were largely free of irregularities. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said 35 people were arrested countrywide for election law violations.
Rajapaksa loyalists in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party compelled an unwilling Sirisena to nominate him for the election, but Sirisena vowed not to appoint Rajapaksa prime minister even if he won a majority.
Sirisena formed an alliance with Wickremesinghe to defeat Rajapaksa in the presidential election in January, vowing to make a break from a government that was mired in allegations of corruption and nepotism.
Rajapaksa was seeking a third term after abolishing a two-term limit for presidents. Since his presidential loss, there has been a sharp reversal of fortunes for him, his family and his friends. Some now face investigations or lawsuits concerning allegations of corruption, misuse of power and even murder.
He was hailed by many in among the country's majority Sinhalese ethnic population as a warrior king for defeating Tamil Tiger separatists to end a nearly 26-year civil war. But he is accused of using his popularity to take control of all government institutions, including Parliament, the courts and the armed forces.
He was also accused of widespread human rights abuses and of suppressing freedoms.
Al Jazeera and the Associated Press