Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa conceded defeat in the presidential election, according to the president’s office Friday.
President Rajapaksa said during a meeting with opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe that he accepted the people’s verdict, and left his official residence, the president’s press secretary Vijayananda Herath said.
Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, who was leading the poll so far, was headed for a victory, Xinhua reported.
Earlier Thursday, Tamils in the north defied a call to boycott the election, with a majority backing Sirisena, a former health minister.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Sri Lanka’s minority Tamil party, had urged voters to support Sirisena, but some TNA provincial council members called for a boycott.
The final results from the north and other areas of the country will be released Friday.
More than 11 million people voted across Sri Lanka Thursday in the presidential election.
Incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa who has been in power since 2005 was fighting for an unprecedented third term.