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Rajapaksa sweeps SL local body polls

The UPFA led by President Rajapaksa has swept the local body elections in Lanka, reports PK Balachandran.
None | By PK Balachandran, Colombo
PUBLISHED ON MAR 31, 2006 08:41 PM IST

The United Peoples' Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has swept the local bodies elections in the island.

The Marxist cum Sinhala nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Permuna (JVP), an ally of UPFA's in the Sri Lankan Parliament, which contested the elections independently, bit the dust capturing only one local body, its traditional stronghold of Tissamaharama in South Sri Lanka.

The UPFA had captured 216 of the 251 local bodies for which the results were available in the evening of Friday.

The total number of local bodies which went to the polls on Thursday was 266.

The main opposition party, United National Party (UNP), won only 30 local bodies.

The pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance won five.

Rajapaksa's rising popularity

The results confirm the rising popularity of President Rajapaksa and his party.

It was only in November 2005 that Rajapaksa had won the Presidential election by a narrow margin.

But subsequent opinion polls showed that he had increased his support base since then.

The local bodies elections also show that the UNP has lost support badly since November 2005, and is today in a shambles.

And the JVP has clearly been over estimating itself grossly.

The crushing defeat is bound to have a sobering effect on the JVP, which has been taking an uncompromisingly hard line on the peace process, talks with the LTTE, the status of the Norwegian peace brokers, and the role of the international community.

The JVP has also been taking an uncompromising line on the issue of a federal constitution, which is touted by the peace lobby from the world over as a solution to the long standing ethnic conflict in the island.

The JVP has consistently rejected federalism.

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