Incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka won a hotly contested presidential election after hours of slow vote counting. When all is said and done, he will command almost 60% of the vote, easily beating the challenger Sarath Fonseka.

Sri Lanka election

Very little violence was reported at the polling booths which was a surprise to outside observers. Sri Lanka was engaged in a bloody civil war for years before government forces finally defeated and disbanded the Tamil Tiger guerrilla army.

Beyond that the Sri Lanka election campaigning was bitter. Both candidates exchanges charges of corruption and vote rigging which left the outside world uneasy.

As the votes were being counted, the challenger’s campaign headquarters was surrounded by army troops, reminding us that democracy is a matter of degrees in Sri Lanka. The government is worried that the popular ex-general may claim vote rigging to spark civil unrest. Didn’t Al Gore do that in Florida?

Nonetheless the U.S. observer from the Obama administration declared the election a success, stating that there was little evidence of voting problems. Over 70% of eligible voters cast a ballot.

The presidential election pitted two heroes of the nation against one another, one the former general of the Sinhalese army and the other the president who led the country out of the abyss. They had a falling out which prompted Sarath Fonseka to join the opposition party against incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Official vote totals can be seen here while one interested site has done a great job of live blogging the historic election.

But the fat lady has sung in this election. Mahinda Rajapaksa wins the Sri Lanka presidential election, and the vote was not even close.