Written in the stars: President Mahinda Rajapaksa reacts during final rally as Sri Lanka president
Written in the stars: President Mahinda Rajapaksa reacts during final rally as Sri Lanka presidentReuters

An astrologer trusted by the president of Sri Lanka watched helplessly as his advice to hold a snap general election backfired spectacularly. As the saying goes: "You had one job..."

Seer Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena told national leader Mahinda Rajapaksa he would win the popular poll, which he duly lost.

It seems Abeygunawardena's mysterious powers of fortune-telling temporarily abandoned him, resulting in the swift end of the president's 10-year stay in power.

The now former president Rajapaksa could now be forgiven for wondering whether his trusted advisor of more than three decades shouldn't have seen the election upset coming.

Abeygunawardena is keeping a low profile after his role in the downfall of the man who has so richly rewarded him for years and whom relied heavily upon his predictions.

"Not all of Nostradamus' predictions have come true either," said Abeygunawardena by way of explanation for his catastrophic lapse. "There was only so much I could do to help him win, maybe 5%. But you must have luck to be the president."

The soothsayer also has a large following among the population who have observed his fatal prediction and its consequences for his most high-profile believer. Yet Abeygunawardena was confident his credibility would survive this setback.

"I am avoiding talking to people, especially the media, but I have a big following and they will not abandon me," he said.

"If I did not tell him he was going to win, he would have been psychologically shattered. His defeat would have been much worse."

Cold comfort for deposed president Rajapaksa, perhaps.