Page last updated at 07:53 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 08:53 UK

Final Sri Lanka vote count confirms Rajapaksa triumph

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Colombo

A Colombo municipal worker sweeps as a boy looks on under the poster of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, April 9, 2010.
Turnout was low during the elections

Final results from Sri Lanka's general election confirm that President Mahinda Rajapaksa's coalition has secured an overwhelming victory.

His alliance of parties has secured the biggest landslide victory seen in the country since 1977, although on the lowest turnout since independence.

The results came after repolling in two parts of the country hit by violence on election day two weeks ago.

Mr Rajapaksa narrowly failed to win enough seats to alter the constitution.

It won 144 seats in a parliament of 225 seats.

The traditional opposition party is reduced to almost a rump with only 60. Only two other groups won seats.

Parts of the Tamil-dominated north and east fell to an alliance seen as a proxy for the defeated Tamil Tigers.

And the party of the defeated and now jailed presidential candidate, Sarath Fonseka, has seven MPs including General Fonseka himself.

He may or may not be permitted to take his oath in parliament on Thursday.

'Miracle of Asia'

There is little doubt that the president, who was himself re-elected in January, scored so well because he is seen as the man who last year rid the country of the separatist Tamil Tigers in an all-out military victory.

For that he is hugely popular, especially among the rural Sinhalese majority.

The pragmatically inclined leader says that through economic development he will make Sri Lanka into the "miracle of Asia".

He now has vast powers until at least 2016 - if he can encourage just six opposition legislators to defect, he will have a two-thirds majority which will help him change the constitution.

The Sunday Times newspaper said the country also expected him to maintain standards on media freedom and accommodating dissent.

Human rights campaigners say there are blemishes in that regard.

A new report by an international media group places Sri Lanka fourth among countries in which it says journalists are killed and governments fail to solve the crimes.

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