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'Sri Lankan govt committed to free and fair polls'

Amid fears of violence and vote-rigging during the Presidential elections on Tuesday, Sri Lankan government today vowed to protect the democratic principles and assured free and fair polls.

world Updated: Jan 25, 2010 12:19 IST

Amid fears of violence and vote-rigging during the Presidential elections on Tuesday, Sri Lankan government today vowed to protect the democratic principles and assured free and fair polls.

"As the campaigning for the Presidential Election, scheduled for tomorrow has come to a close, the Government of Sri Lanka is aware of the considerable interest abroad in the first such election in which the entire country can participate freely, since the decisive defeat of terrorism in the country in May last year," a statement released by the Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat said.

"Having restored peace to the country after 30 years of terrorism, the Government of Sri Lanka is wholly committed to a free and democratic election in every part of the country," it said.

The statement further read, "It was precisely because such elections could not occur in a conflict-ridden situation that the Sri Lanka Government took decisive action last year to end the threat posed by persistent terrorism on the country's democratic institutions."

Tuesday's election pitting incumbent Mahinda Rajapakse against former army chief General Sarath Fonseka is the first peacetime presidential vote since Tamil Tigers took up arms in 1972.

"The Sri Lanka Government calls for a peaceful election, and stands committed to taking whatever steps deemed necessary to ensure the same," the statement said.