In a stunning blow to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan voters opted for his former colleague Maithripala Sirisena to end a decade-long regime that has been increasingly marked by allegations of nepotism, corruption and authoritarianism.

Rajapaksa, after defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), had won an overwhelming mandate for himself and his party in the 2010 elections.

The LTTE had been fighting since 1983 for an independent homeland for minority ethnic Tamils after decades of discrimination at the hands of the Sinhalese majority.