Colombo: Sri Lanka`s ruling party took a narrow lead in parliamentary elections where former strongman Mahinda Rajapakse is attempting to pull off a comeback, early results showed Tuesday.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe`s United National Party was leading in 10 electoral districts while Rajapakse`s United People`s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) was ahead in nine, official results showed.
The remaining three districts were dominated by a minority Tamil party, officials said, adding that no party was set to secure an absolute majority of 113 seats in the 225-member parliament following Monday`s election.
Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said he expected the release of the final party positions by midday Tuesday, while individual votes garnered by candidates would be known later.
Results so far were disappointing for Rajapakse who expressed confidence Monday that he could return to power as Sri Lanka`s prime minister just months after he was toppled as president.
The election commissioner Deshapriya said the vote, called a year ahead of schedule by President Maithripala Sirisena who ousted the veteran leader in January, had been one of the most peaceful in Sri Lanka`s history.
Since his surprise victory over his former mentor, Sirisena has struggled to impose his authority over his UPFA party and was powerless to prevent Rajapakse from standing as one of its candidates.
He has threatened to invoke his executive powers to prevent his combative predecessor from becoming prime minister, but Rajapakse had hoped that a strong showing would force Sirisena to back down.