The first elections in Sri Lanka since the government’s civil war against the separatist LTTE ended in May were held in three districts including Jaffna on Saturday.
Voting for the Uva provincial council (southern Sri Lanka) and Jaffna municipal council and Vavuniya urban council (both in the Tamil dominated north) began at 7 am and were concluded at 4 pm.
The elections were held after 11 years in the two towns.
According to the non-governmental agency, People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections, the Uva province registered a voter turnout of around 55 to 60 per cent and the Vavuniya urban council election saw a voter turnout of around 50 per cent.
Voting in Jaffna was considerably lower at 25 p.c. Jaffna, in Lanka’s far north, was wrested from the LTTE in 1995 but continues to have a huge army presence.
More than 2.83 lakh Tamil refugees are housed in camps in Vavuniya. They were asked to register if they wanted to vote but only a few thousands registered.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party-led ruling coalition of United People’s Freedom Alliance, opposition, United National Party, and a number of Tamil parties including the Tamil National Alliance — considered as pro-LTTE — put up candidates in the polls.
The elections were out of bound for reporters as there was an unofficial ban on independent journalists.