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Ruling Alliance Leads Voting in Sri Lanka

October 11, 2000|From Reuters

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Early results today showed war-torn Sri Lanka's ruling People's Alliance widening its lead in acrimonious general elections that were reportedly marred by killings, bombing and fraud.

The election is seen as a key test of President Chandrika Kumaratunga's plan to end the country's 17-year ethnic war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, in which more than 61,000 people have died.

A nationwide curfew imposed after Tuesday's poll was lifted at dawn, but violence and other problems continued to delay the count.

Early returns showed the PA winning in 22 of 32 polling divisions declared, with the main opposition United National Party winning nine. Sri Lanka has 168 polling divisions divided between 22 electoral districts.

The independent Center for Monitoring Election Violence said it had received reports of serious poll violations, including instances of killings, bombings and ballot-stuffing, at 365 polling booths in nearly half the polling divisions. It said seven people had died in clashes during the vote and that 35 of its monitors were threatened by PA supporters.

The poll was also tinged with sadness over the death of the president's mother and the world's first female prime minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, 84, who died while on her way back to Colombo after casting her vote in her home district of Gampaha. She will be buried Saturday with state honors.

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