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60 per cent vote in Northern Province

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The nearly-25-year wait came to an end for the people of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province when about more than 60 per cent of them exercised their franchise on Saturday.

Barring a few incidents of violence and intimidation, as reported by local election monitors, the provincial council elections in the North, Central and North Western Provinces were largely peaceful.

The outcome of the polls — Sri Lanka follows the preferential voting system where a voter can choose a party and up to three candidates from it — will be known on Sunday.

The elections evoked much interest in India, as the councils were a consequence of the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987, out of which the 13th Amendment was born.

The conduct of the elections, though after some speculation, signalled an important step towards a political solution to the Tamil question. This is the first-ever Northern Provincial Council elections after 1988.

On Saturday, the otherwise calm streets of Jaffna looked busy with small groups of people huddled outside schools and colleges that had morphed into election booths for a day. A stream of voters trooping in to these centres could be seen from as early as 7 a.m.

Voters like Bhuvaneswari Dharmarathinam, a nursing officer, decided to head to the polling station first thing in the “This is a very important day for us,” she said.

Some see the election as the only symbol of hope left.


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