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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sri Lanka Election result declared

Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapaksa wins re-election.

Mahinda RajapaksaJanuary 27 2010 : President Mahinda Rajapaksa has won Sri Lanka's first election since Tamil Tiger rebels were defeated after 25 years of civil war.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has won Sri Lanka's first election since Tamil Tiger rebels were defeated after 25 years of civil war.
Although the final results are yet to be declared, Mr Rajapaksa appears to have won more than half the votes cast.

About 100 armed troops have surrounded the Colombo hotel where his election rival, Gen Sarath Fonseka, is staying.

A government spokesman told the BBC they did not intend to hold Gen Fonseka but were looking for army deserters.

A military spokesman said their deployment was a "protective measure".

Udaya Nanayakkara said that some 400 people had gathered inside the Cinnamon Lake Hotel in the capital.
"We don't know what is their motive and, as a protective measure, we have deployed troops around the hotel, and people who go in and come out are being checked," he said.

Gen Fonseka said he feared the troops planned to arrest him if he won the election, a claim denied by officials.

With nearly 85% of the vote counted, the Elections Commissioner gave Mr Rajapaksa 4.99 million votes to 3.39 million for his rival.

Some 70% of the electorate of just over 14 million turned out to vote.

State-run Rupavahini television reported that the incumbent president had won a decisive victory, with a majority of more than 1.8 million votes.

Under Sri Lanka's electoral rules, if no candidate wins 50% of ballots cast in the first count, then voters' second - or even third - preferences are tallied to determine the winner.

Charles Haviland, in Colombo, says it is probably only a matter of time before Gen Fonseka's team concedes, but the opposition may raise certain objections as to how the election campaign was conducted.

Independent observers have been perturbed by two main elements, our correspondent says, one of which is the amount of violence in the run-up to the election - with most complaints about the perpetration of violence laid at the door of the president's side.

The other is what monitors say is the misuse of public resources and state media.

State TV in particular gave blanket coverage to Mr Rajapaksa, our correspondent says, with Gen Fonseka more or less a footnote, and public buses were used to ferry around the incumbent's campaign material.

The government has said it paid for the use of the buses and other state resources but the independent election monitoring bodies are not convinced, our correspondent says.

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