Sri Lanka president wins re-election

January 27, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse won a bruising re-election battle on Wednesday, but the result was rejected by his opponent who spent the day holed up in a hotel surrounded by troops. The election commissioner said Rajapakse had secured 57.9 percent of the popular vote in Tuesday’s presidential poll — the first since a victory over separatist Tamil rebels last May ended a decades-long civil war.

“This is a victory for the people,” Rajapakse said. “I thank those who voted for me and those who did not. I will work for all of them.”

His main challenger, former army chief Sarath Fonseka, received 40.1 percent of the vote, but he vowed to challenge the result in court.

In a day of high drama that followed a bitter and vitriolic contest between the former allies, Fonseka was surrounded by heavily armed soldiers in a luxury hotel in central Colombo where he checked in on Tuesday night.

The 59-year-old claimed he was unable to leave because he would be arrested or assassinated, but he slipped out unimpeded late Wednesday, heading for a safe house in the Sri Lankan capital.

“The victory has been taken away from us by election-rigging and the violation of electoral law