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Military on alert ahead of polls

Nearly 80,000 military and police personnel have spread out across Sri Lanka as campaigning for the April 8 general elections comes to an end on Monday midnight.

world Updated: Apr 06, 2010 00:26 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Nearly 80,000 military and police personnel have spread out across Sri Lanka as campaigning for the April 8 general elections comes to an end on Monday midnight.

Three coalitions, the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), the United National Front and Democratic National Alliance (DNA) are fighting the election to secure a majority in the 225-seat Parliament.

Several Tamil parties have fielded candidates in the north and the east of the country.

Former army chief Sarath Fonseka is heading the DNA and is fighting the election from military custody in which he has been since the February 8.

Fonseka’s wife Anoma carried out campaigning on his behalf.

A record 7,620 candidates are fighting in the polls, declared in February within days after President Mahinda Rajapaksa won the Presidential election. More than 14 million are registered to vote.

With a split opposition – which joined ranks to field Fonseka in the January 26 Presidential poll – Rajapaksa-led UPFA seems to be heading for a clear victory.

Campaigning was marred by hundreds of incidents of, largely intra-party, violence with candidates from both the ruling coalition and opposition parties blatantly and brazenly violating Election Department guidelines.

Till Sunday, 350 minor incidents of violence were reported and the police picked up more than 200 people.

A group of unidentified gunmen on Sunday night shot and killed an United People’s Freedom Alliance’s supporter in the Kurunegala District, some 90 km from Colombo.