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Rajapaksa's coalition comfortably ahead

The ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) was expectedly heading towards getting a comfortable majority in Thursday’s general election in Sri Lanka, reports Sutirtho Patranobis.

world Updated: Apr 09, 2010 11:36 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) was expectedly heading towards getting a comfortable majority in Thursday’s general election in Sri Lanka.

Initial counting results showed that the President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led coalition was ahead in most of the 22 electoral districts of the country.

According to reports till 11a.m, the UPFA had bagged 15 seats in the 225-member Parliament in which 196 are elected.

The UPFA’s nearest rival, the United National Party, had won 4 seats.

The UPFA expectedly won in the Hambantota District – the Rajapaksa family’s home district -- by obtaining 174808 votes and securing 5 seats while the UNP obtained 83027 votes and secured 2 seats. The Democratic National Alliance – headed by jailed former army chief Sarath Fonseka -- secured 19186 votes and did not obtain any seats.

Reports said that Rajapaksa’s eldest son, Namal Rajapaksa, was leading the preference list of candidates in Hambantota. If he won, it would be Namal Rajapaksa’s first entry into Parliament.

Tamil parties, like the Tamil National Alliance, were faring well in the north. In Colombo city areas, the opposition party was also doing well.

Reports added cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya, standing on the UPFA platform, seemed set to become a Member of Parliament (MP) as he had secured the most number of preferential votes from the Matara District by obtaining more than 71,000 votes.

Late on Thursday night, the Elections Commissioner decided to annul the polling at several centres at the Nawalapitiya area of the Kandy district in central Sri Lanka following widespread incidents of malpractices and intrusions inside the polling centres. Several political parties had complained to the Elections Commissioner about these alleged abuses, Adaderana reported.

It added that particulars regarding the number of votes polled at each centre and whether re-polling is to be carried out will be notified later this morning.

Polling was also annulled at a voting centre in the eastern district of Trincomalee district.

The final results could be delayed because of these annulments.

The low voter turnout on Thursday would have helped the incumbent government, which is hoping to get a 2/3rd majority in Parliament.

While the election department is yet to release voting percentages, non-governmental election monitors on Thursday pegged it at not more than 55 per cent – abysmal by Sri Lankan standards.

One of the lowest turnouts was recorded in the Tamil-dominated Jaffna where less than 20 per cent votes were polled.

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) recorded 84 Major and 202 minor incidents of election related violence. ``The majority of major incidents related to the intimidatory presence in and around polling stations,’’ CMEV, an independent monitor, said

The CMEV added that it estimates voter turn out to be between 50 per cent to -55 per cent. ``This could be the lowest turn out figures in recent history, as most Presidential and general elections have seen averages of 65 per cent to 75 per cent. The lowest turn out for a general or Presidential Election in the last twenty years was the Presidential Election of 1988, which was 55.31 per cent while the general election of 1989 registered a 63.6 per cent turnout.