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Sri Lanka goes to polls in crucial vote

12 February 2018

Neither President nor Prime Minister commented on the results.

Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), a party formed by breakaway members of Sirisena' party, has secured 97 local bodies out of results for 139 councils so far released as at 0650 GMT.

Private election monitors said the two-month campaign for the local government elections was the most peaceful in decades and an outstanding feature was the impartiality and even-handedness of the police and the strict enforcement of election laws.

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In another official result from the south, Rajapaksa's SLPP has won the southern Galle district's Ambalangoda council, winning 10 seats while rival parties shared rest of the 10 seats.

"Rajapaksa's electoral performance comes as a surprise and will be problematic for President Sirisena", Shailesh Kumar, director with political risk consultants Eurasia Group told Reuters.

Rajapaksa, who lost the 2015 presidential election, said the people want him back because the government is considering a new constitution that would share power with ethnic minority Tamils and sell state assets.

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There are no accurate opinion polls on the election but many political analysts say the UNP is likely to perform best in the polls, in which voters will elect some 8,300 representatives in 340 local authorities across the country.

In a statement, he thanked the voters and appealed for calm in celebrating the victory.

Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) was a distant second with 41 councils while Sirisena's Freedom Alliance languished with just 11.

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Sri Lanka's ruling alliance suffered a humiliating defeat in the local elections, which is seen as a test of its leadership, as the party of former president Mahinda Rajapakse stood victorious, Al Jazeera reported.

"I ask the president to call a general election".

In order to postpone the polls by a year, the government proposed an amendment to the Constitution to hold elections for all nine provincial councils on a single day.

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Sri Lanka goes to polls in crucial vote