Sri Lankans began voting on Thursday in a tightly fought presidential election, with incumbent Mahinda Rajapakse seeking a record third term in office amid a flurry of defections and criticism over his authoritarian rule.
6:57 pm: Some voters were prevented from casting ballots in the Tamil-dominated north, according to the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence, and there were a handful of incidents of isolated violence, but no injuries were reported. >Read story .
5:18 pm: Special security arrangements have been made on results day around Temple Trees & across Colombo.
5:17 pm: Compared to 2005 & 2010 polls, this election very peaceful, says spokesman Ajith Rohana.
5:15 pm: According to local media reports, voter turnout at 4pm in various places:
Monaragala over 75%
Kegalle over 70%
4:24 pm: Polling ends in Sri Lanka
3:57 pm: "Government servants disgusted with this regime, can't survive on this pension," says a senior citizen voter in Colombo. "Rising costs, injustice, corruption main issues influencing voters this time," he adds.
3:28 pm: Election monitors say that voters in northern Sri Lanka were prevented from casting their ballots. The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence, based in Colombo, also said a hand grenade exploded near a voting station in the northern Jaffna peninsula in the Tamil minority heartland, but that no injuries were reported.
2:40 pm: Our correspondent met with some of the voters. Here's what they had to say:
Mohan Perera, 62, scientist formerly with the UN
"For me it is about the allegations of corruption that influenced my decision in this election. The country is also heavily borrowing from other countries, which is not good for our economy. Money is being squandered, but not being used for the poor in our country side. The whole country was deeply grateful to president Rajapaksa for bringing the war to an end, but building infrastructure alone won't do for our Tamils. It is also a question of winning hearts and minds. And in that this government has lacked sincerity."
Sinhalese school teacher, who requested anonimity:
Development is a priority. We treasure the war victory this government made possible. Though corruption is an issue, we have to weigh all these factors broadly and take a responsible decision.
Mohammed (29), runs a tailoring unit
"I am voting for change. This government had two terms, but our lives did not change even a little. Cost of living is going up every d"ay."
Alisha (23), helps at tailoring unit
"We don't have too much faith in our own (Muslim] leaders. We are voting for change, hoping it will bring more peace and religious harmony in this country. "
Saumya Malini, 31, teacher
We wan't the development in this country to continue. The cost of living is high, but that is nothing unusual [in any government]
Raashi Riza, architect and activist based in London and Dubai
"I came down specifically to vote in this elections. The gradient of degradation in this country has been very steep since our last elections in 2010. That is perhaps why the government even called early elections, fearing their appeal will wane further in the next two years. This is a historic election for our country, and in future I want to be able to say I voted in that."
12:54 pm: Police say they will investigate the Point Pedro explosion.
"Yes, there was an explosion, but no one was injured. Investigations are on," Ravi Vaidyalankara, DIG of police, Jaffna says.
11: 15 am: “People are keen to vote, there were several hundreds already queueing up when the poll stations opened,” E Saravanabhavan, a Tamil parliamentarian from Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said.
10:56 am: Scenes from the polling booth at College House in Colombo. Photo: Meera Srinivasan
10:45 am: Explosion reported in Point Pedro area in Jaffna in the morning. No injuries
10:30 am: The run up to Sri Lanka's presidential polls has witnessed fascinating political reconfiguration. How? >Read here
10: 05 am: Voter turn seems good in Kilinochchi this morning; polling largely smooth so far, says an international election monitor
9:15 am: President Rajapakse after voting:
Polls opened at 7 a.m. (0130 GMT) and will continue for nine hours under tight security, an elections department official said.
Some 1,586,598 of the country’s 21 million population are eligible to vote. Over 12,000 polling stations have been set for elections. There are 19 candidates in the fray.