As he left his home in Polonnaruwa province for Colombo after Rajapaksa conceded defeat, Sirisena, who was the joint opposition candidate, added that he would promote Buddhism -- the country's dominant religion.

The media quoted him as saying that he would "create a just and equal society" and provide good governance.Meanwhile, Rajapaksa told MPs from his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) that he would continue to head the party.

He met opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe and assured him a smooth transition before leaving his official premises. The president also telephoned Sirisena "and discussed the next steps to be taken after the change in the administration", a media report said.

Rajapaksa asked his party MPs to cooperate with the new administration.

He promised to support the new president's programmes and "only criticize the ones he will not agree with".

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