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70 per cent polling in Sri Lanka polls

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at a polling station in Colombo.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at a polling station in Colombo.   | Photo Credit: DINUKA LIYANAWATTE

Though the polling started on a subdued note initially, it picked up momentum subsequently.

An estimated 70 per cent of about 1.5 crore voters of Sri Lanka on Monday exercised their franchise in the eighth parliamentary elections. The day’s polling went off peacefully.

Though the Elections Department said it would take some more time for the overall tally to be out, reports from different districts pointed to a fairly high turnout.

At 7 a.m, polling started in many places on a subdued note but it soon picked up momentum. Anuradhapura was one of the districts which witnessed brisk polling even in the beginning. Though several districts witnessed rain which lasted about two hours, this did not dampen the voters’ interest.

“We have conducted the elections in a free and fair manner,” Mahinda Deshapriya, Elections Commissioner, told a press conference. There were only minor complaints about the polling, Mr. Deshapriya said.

Parliamentary candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa gestures outside a polling station after casting his vote in Medamulana village, southern Sri Lanka on Monday. Photo: AP

The first result after the counting of postal votes was taken up came from the Ratnapura electoral district in the Sabaragamuwa Province and this went in favour of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).

The total votes polled were 23,383. Of them, the UPFA secured 11,367 and the UNP 9,673. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People’s Liberation Front) got 1,808 votes.

Clash-free polling

Colombo, Polonaruwa, Trincomalee and Ratnapura were among the districts where the turnout was around 70 per cent in the Sri Lankan parliamentary elections held on Monday. Jaffna in the Northern Province was one among the areas which had a low turnout. In Vanni, the other district in the province, and Batticaloa and Ampara, both in the Eastern Province, the polling varied from 60 per cent to 67 per cent.

By 5 p.m. polling ended and the ballot boxes from the polling stations were taken to the counting centres, which numbered 1,600. Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, Executive Director of the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFEE), said reports of clashes or disturbances between two ethnic groups were virtually absent this time. In the Northern and Eastern provinces, members of the Army were not pressed into service to enable the polling.

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), a civil society organisation, in a release stated that it received some reports of violations of election laws on the day.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 4:21:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/sri-lanka-general-elections/article7549805.ece

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