69-year-old Rajapaksa, who amended the constitution soon after his victory in 2010 to give himself a third term, called the election two years ahead of schedule, hoping to win a record third six-year term before the defeat of Tigers fades in the memory of the people of the island which saw a three decades war over the demand of a separate Tamil Eelam.

However, a series of defections including the desertion by his health minister and General Secretary of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Maithripala Sirisena, who has now emerged as a winner in the polls, caught him unawares.

Rajapaksa's tenure saw the Lankan economy growing with many infrastructure projects rolled out but charges of corruption and presence of his brothers in the cabinet led to discontentment.

Rajapaksa's brothers - Gotabhaya and Basil - were Defence and Economic Ministers respectively besides a number of his family members who were holding key posts and positions.     

The Sinhalese nationalist was also accused of being an authoritarian ruler and flouting human rights.

Muslim parties and groups also had major grievances over the handling of the anti-Muslim violence last year.

The President ignored an early warning from his key ally the Buddhist nationalist JHU or the Heritage Party. The JHU support was key to Rajapaksa's wafer thin win in 2005 for his first term.

The party of the Buddhist clergy urged Rajapaksa to implement urgent democratic reforms before the snap poll. The 19th amendment envisages a less powerful presidency, reforms in electoral, judicial and public service – in a nutshell to break the shackles of what his detractors called the authoritarianism of the President's rule.

Latest News from World News Desk