Rajapaksa casts vote in hometown Tangelle

January 26th, 2010 - 1:03 pm ICT by ANI  

Tangelle (Sri Lanka), Jan.26 (ANI): Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is facing an unexpectedly strong challenge from opposition candidate and former chief of army staff, General (retired) Sarath Fonseka, while pushing his bid for a second consecutive term, cast his vote on Tuesday in his hometown Tangelle in southern Sri Lanka.

Polling in Tangelle opened amid tight security on Tuesday morning.

This is the first post-war presidential election in Sri Lanka, in which nearly 14.1 million people are expected to vote.

More than 68,000 police and other security personnel have been deployed to protect polling stations and there are fears about the elections being marred by violence.

There have so far been more than 800 reported acts of violence and at least four deaths.

Although there are no credible opinion polls on the island, the consensus is that both men are neck-to-neck with equal support among the Sinhalese ethnic majority which makes up 75 percent of the nation’s 21 million people.

That makes Sri Lanka’s minorities, who make up the remaining quarter of voters, the crucial swing vote. The largest group is the Tamils, with about 12 percent.

Neither candidate has sizeable Tamil support because of the war, but the LTTE’s political proxy, the Tamil National Alliance, has backed Fonseka. It is unclear how many Tamils will vote.

The other sizeable minority vote blocs are Muslim, with about seven percent, and five percent from the so-called Estate Tamils, descendants of Indian Tamils brought to work on tea estates under British colonial rule. (ANI)

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