Sri Lanka poll set to bolster Rajapaksa's hold on power

Sri Lanka poll set to bolster Rajapaksa's hold on power

Sri Lanka poll set to bolster Rajapaksa's hold on power

A Sri Lankan voter shows her inked finger after voting at a polling station in Colombo on Thursday. AFP

The elections for 14th Parliament of Sri Lanka witnessed over 50 per cent voter turnout amid sporadic incidents of violence during the polling which began at 7 am local time and concluded at 4 pm, according to independent poll monitors.

Rajapaksa cast his vote from the southern Hambantota district while former Premier and opposition United National Front (UNF) chief Ranil Wickremasinghe voted from Colombo.
Fonseka, who is heading another opposition alliance DNA which is dominated by Marxist JVP, could not cast his ballot as his name did not figure in the voters’ list of 2008, which was the basis for today’s Parliamentary elections.

Rajapaksa’s ruling UPFA is expected to register an easy win, with Fonseka facing court martial for alleged involvement in politics and illegal defence deals while in uniform and Wickremesinghe’s UNF too not appearing to give a tough fight.

More than 14 million people were eligible to vote, with 7,620 candidates from 36 political parties and 310 independent groups running for Parliament.

Counting of ballots will begin tonight and first results are expected by Friday morning.
Polling in the Wanni region, which was once held by the LTTE, was subdued, though some enthusiastic voters were seen queueing up at the polling booths. P S M Charles, the government agent in Vavuniya, said more than five lakh people cast their votes in the district.

“I could see enthusiasm amongst voters and people were still queueing up in the concluding hours of the elections,” he said.

The logistical facilities were in place to enable the Tamil people to move to the polling booths to cast their votes, he said, adding transport had been provided to the voters in Wanni region.

During the January 26 Presidential elections in which Rajapaksa had defeated Fonseka who was then the joint opposition candidate, voters had complained about lack of buses in Wanni which had caused problems to them in reaching the polling booths.

Executive Director of People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections Rohana Hettiarachchi said 60 incidents of election-related violence were recorded just before the end of polling, though they were all of minor nature. He estimated the voter turnout to be 50-52 per cent.