UN chief urges peaceful Sri Lanka vote

UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged the Sri Lankan government Monday to ensure next week`s elections are peaceful and that minorities are able to vote without fear.

Ban spoke by phone with Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris to convey "his strong expectation that the government of Sri Lanka will ensure the peaceful and credible conduct" of the January 8 presidential vote, said a UN spokesman.

President Mahinda Rajapakse has seen support for his re-election bid dwindle over the past weeks, with the main Muslim party quitting the government and backing the opposition candidate.

Ban noted "the importance of inclusive participation of all Sri Lankan voters, including from minority communities, in the election process without any fear."

Rajapakse came to power in 2005 and is South Asia`s longest serving leader.

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