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Sri Lanka's ruling party sweeps local polls

world Updated: Aug 24, 2008 15:13 IST

AFP
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Sri Lanka's ruling party swept two local councils in an election seen as a referendum on the administration's war against Tamil rebels, results showed on Sunday.

President Mahinda Rajapakse's United People's Freedom Alliance comfortably won the provincial councils by polling over 55 per cent of Saturday's vote, according to the department of elections.

Rajapakse wanted the ballot for the highest level of local government in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces to be a referendum on his military campaign against Tamil separatists.

Tens of thousands have died on both sides since the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) began fighting in 1972 for an independent homeland for minority Tamils in the majority Sinhalese island.

Independent verification of the tolls is impossible as the army does not allow journalists or human rights groups to visit frontline areas.

Colombo has scrapped a truce and poured a record 1.5 billion dollars into this year's war effort in what it says is an all-out bid to crush the rebels.