Sri Lanka holds first local polls since end of ethnic strife

Sri Lanka held its first local elections, since the end of ethnic strife two years ago, which are seen as a test for President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s government.

Last Updated: Mar 17, 2011, 23:06 PM IST

Colombo: Sri Lanka on Thursday held its first
local elections, since the end of ethnic strife two years ago,
which are seen as a test for President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s
government.

Rajapaksa has been staunchly campaigning for his
United People`s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) for the council
election held mostly in rural areas of the country.

Elections in urban areas had been postponed because
of the cricket world cup tournament the country is hosting
along with India and Bangladesh.

Initial reports estimated turnout at around 50 per
cent. 9.4 million people were eligible to cast their votes.

There had been reports of sporadic clashes during
polling.

Some 29,108 candidates are running for 3,036 seats in
local government bodies.

The vote is seen as a test for Rajapaksa, one year
after his presidential victory.

Since government troops defeated the Tamil Tiger
separatist rebels in 2009, Rajapakse has tightened his grip on
power by securing a second presidential term and winning
parliamentary polls.

A date has not been announced for holding elections
in urban areas as well as in dozens of councils facing legal
challenges at the time of filing nomination papers.
Results are expected Friday.

PTI