Rajapaksa sweeps polls amid allegations of misuse of state resources
The ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) swept the local government elections held across Sri Lanka on Thursday. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.world Updated: Mar 18, 2011 19:42 IST
The ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) swept the local government elections held across Sri Lanka on Thursday.
The UPFA, led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, won 205 of the 234 councils that went to polls.
The main opposition, the United National Party (UNP) came a distant second after winning nine councils. The UPFA garnered about 55% of the vote, the UNP 33% and smaller parties 8%.
These were the first local elections since the end of the war in May, 2009. More than 9.4 million voters were eligible to elect more than 3,000 people to serve on local councils.
AFP reported that polls in urban areas were put off until the cricket World Cup, currently being co-hosted by Sri Lanka along with Bangladesh and India, ends in April.
Elsewhere, elections were not held in over 60 councils due to a court challenge over the rejection of nomination papers by the election department.
Voters’ turnout was significantly low in Thursday's election, while the incidence of election related violence was quite high.
The Election Commissioner issued a statement regarding the recently concluded Local Government elections stating that it was "regrettable how some political parties and groups conducted themselves both before and during the polls and stated that the misuse of state resources and state owned media was also regrettable."
It added that occurrence of incidents of thuggery were reported during the period of nominations and subsequently.
"One marked feature of the election campaign was the competition even among candidates of the same party for preferences. However, it was possible for to conduct the poll in a fairly pleasant atmosphere when compared polls in previous local authority election," the statement added.