Polls to as many as 65 local bodies in the Northern Province here, held under the watchful eyes of the armed forces, were peaceful, said the Election Commission.

While the polling in Jaffna was below 50 per cent, news agencies reported that polling percentages were well over 50 per cent in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi. The first results will emerge by around mid-night on Saturday.

According to officials, the polls took into consideration the electoral roll of 2010. Some NGOs, citing specific instances, had pointed out that many of the 2.5 million voters in the region did not still have identity cards to cast votes.

Though there are about 20 political parties in the fray, the main, even if unequal, battle is between the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and the umbrella outfit of Tamil political parties, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

For most of the population in the North, this is their first election in over two and a half decades. Ever since the LTTE took control of that part of the country, and till the end of Eelam war IV in May 2009, there has been no elections in the northern province.

The TNA had feared that violence would break out in the North during the elections and Leader of the opposition in Parliament Ranil Wickremesinghe had warned that the peaceful conduct of polls was crucial to talks with the Tamil parties making any serious headway.

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