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Central & South Asia
Ruling bloc wins Sri Lanka poll
President's coalition secures a majority in parliament, according to official results.
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2010 15:53 GMT
Voter turnout was at a record low as polls took place amid tight security [Reuters]

Sri Lanka's ruling coalition has won a majority in parliament, according to official results from Thursday's election.

The results, released by the election commissioner on Friday, showed The United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, the incumbent president, had already secured 117 seats in the 225-member assembly.

"This is the triumph of democracy. This is a clear restatement of the confidence the people placed in me," Rajapaksa said in a statement after the results came out.

But the vote was marked by a record low turnout - 50 per cent - and numerous cases of reported voter intimidation that resulted in fresh voting being ordered in two of the island's 22 electoral districts.

The re-run means 16 seats will not be be declared until April 19, along with another 29 that are distributed on a proportional representation system.

The UPFA's closest rival, the United National Party (UNP), has won 46 seats.

Fonseka elected

Another opposition party led by Sarath Fonseka, the defeated presidential candidate and former army chief, has received five seats, with Fonseka himself one of those to be elected.

The UNP's spokesman has complained of irregularities in the vote.

in depth
  Profile: Sarath Fonseka
  Profile: Mahinda Rajapaksa
  Rajapaksa's minority report
  Inside Story: Sri Lanka's future
  101 East: After the war

"We are not challenging the legality of those who are elected," Tissa Attanayake told reporters.

"But we must stress that there were serious violations in the run-up to the elections ... There was election violence and malpractice on a large scale.

The election result consolidates the political dominance of Rajapaksa, who won January's presidential election.

But it remained unclear if his coalition can secure the two-thirds majority needed to change the constitution.

Opponents have said Rajapaksa might seek a change that would allow him to stand for office beyond the current two terms allowed.

Sri Lanka's opposition has been weakened and fragmented after the arrest of Fonseka, who split with the president after the government's victory over the separatist Tamil Tigers in the country's north.

'Legitimacy undermined'

Held in military custody on charges of sedition, Fonseka has run his campaign for a parliamentary seat while in detention.

The opposition accuses Rajapaksa of stifling dissent, encouraging cronyism and corruption and trying to establish up a family dynasty, with two of his brothers and a son running for parliament and other relatives occupying senior government posts.

Nimalka Fernando, a human rights campaigner and political analyst, said the low turnout in the parliamentary poll would undermine the new government's position.

"The result does not give moral authority to the government because half of the electorate did not vote," Fernando said.

"With the legitimacy undermined, the government will not be able to go for any sweeping reforms."

Source:
Agencies
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