Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition sweeps provincial poll (Lead)

April 26th, 2009 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, April 26 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition Sunday swept elections to the Western Provincial Council, that includes the capital Colombo, after a high pitched campaign seeking support for the military offensive aimed at crushing the Tamil Tigers.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s United People Freedom Alliance (UPFA) secured 65 percent of the total votes cast, leaving the opposition badly battered. The United National Party (UNP) led by former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe came second with 30 percent.

The election victory comes amid dramatic military success against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealem (LTTE).

According to the poll results, the UPFA won 68 seats and the UNP got 30 seats in the 104-member provincial council.

The radical Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which is considered the third political force in the country, bagged three seats, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress won two seats and another minority party got one seat.

The Western Provincial Council also comprises Gampaha and Kalutara districts and has the largest voting population of 3,820,214 in the country.

Government spokesman Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said: “They (people) have clearly responded to the president’s call for a united Sri Lanka. The president believed in himself and in wiping out terrorism. And the people have also placed their belief in him.”

Rajapaksa’s party campaigned on the success of its military offensive to defeat the LTTE.

Troops have reportedly confined the rebels to a narrow strip of 8 km on the northeastern coast, as the army says it is in the final stage of destroying the rebel forces in the 25-year conflict.

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