Ruling party wins provincial elections in Sri Lanka
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) recorded convincing victories in two of the nine provinces where local elections were held on Saturday, officials said, according to dpa.
�� The victories in the Central and North Western Provinces were widely seen as an endorsement of the military campaign against Tamil rebels in the northern part of the country.
�� Final results in one of the provinces has been held up as the Election Commissioner has ordered a re-poll, but the UPFA has recorded convincing victories in all five districts in the two provinces where the polls were held. The re-poll in one of the voting places will not alter the final results.
�� In four of the five districts where final results have been announced the UPFA returned 58 members as against 31 of the main opposition United National Party and a solitary member from the Marxists JVP (People's Liberation Front).
�� The UPFA has recorded an average of over 60 per cent of the votes in all five districts of the two provinces. Some 65 per cent of the 3.4 million registered voters turned up for polling.
�� The UPFA heavily campaigned on the success of the military in the north and eastern parts of the country where the security forces have recaptured vast amounts of land that had been held by the rebels, who are now restricted to some 150 square kilometers.
�� Ruling party candidates had called on voters to endorse the military victory by electing their party members to the provincial administration, which is considered the stepping stone to the national parliament.
�� Rajapaksa last year conducted elections in three other provinces and his party won. The next crucial election will be in the Western Province, which includes the capital city of Colombo, and will be followed by elections to two other provinces.
�� The president has vowed to hold a similar provincial election in the Northern Province soon after the military captures the last remaining areas held by the rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).