Sri Lankan Tamils went to the polls in large numbers on Thursday, defying what the opposition said were attempts to discourage voting in the heavily militarised Jaffna peninsula, where President Mahinda Rajapakse is widely disliked.
The "Queen of Jaffna," a once-popular train linking the ethnic Tamil's northern heartland to the rest of Sri Lanka before a bloody civil war cut the link 24 years ago, chugs back into service next week, reinforcing the government's authority in a region once controlled by Tamil rebels.
Sri Lankan troops have been placed on alert to assist in disaster relief as people living in coastal areas in north and north-eastern parts of the island were warned to move inland as stormy weather hit the country.
The Congress Core Group, headed by party president Sonia Gandhi, met on Friday to take a final decision on whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should participate in Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) scheduled to be held in Colombo next week.
Expressing cautious optimism about the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday said much will depend on a dialogue between the central government and newly elected Tamil lawmakers.