News / Asia

Ballot Counting Underway in Sri Lanka Presidential Election

Voters, including Tamils displaced by the civil war, decided whether to extend the tenure of the incumbent president or replace him with his former top military chief.

Policeman giving instruction to voters at polling station in Colombo, 26 Jan 2010
Policeman giving instruction to voters at polling station in Colombo, 26 Jan 2010

Multimedia

Audio

After a violence-marred campaign, vote counting is underway in Sri Lanka for its first peace-time presidential election in decades. Voters, including Tamils displaced by the civil war. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is facing his former ally, ex-Army chief Sarath Fonseka.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa cast his vote in his hometown, Tangelle, in the southern part of the island nation.

The president says his victory will be remarkable and evident, thanks to the participation of voters across the country.

Mr. Fonseka says he was not able to cast his ballot because his name was not on the voter registration list.  While balloting was still going on, former general Sarath Fonseka told reporters that despite the glitch he is still fully qualified to serve as president despite reports to the contrary.

"The government is on a campaign to again misinform the Sri Lankans and mislead all citizens about my vote," he said.

It is estimated that more than 65 percent of eligible voters went to the polls nationwide.  But fears of violence and intimidation and lack of transportation are partly blamed for keeping turnout low in the Tamil-dominated North and East.

With the Sinhalese vote believed to have been split between the president and his top challenger, Tamil voters found their ballots taking on a significance beyond their 15 percent share of the population.

"As Tamils, we need a good situation.  So, in that basis, I chose my leader," said a voter.

Many other Tamil voters, interviewed by VOA in the capital, spoke of protecting and expanding their rights as a minority, suppressed for decades by the majority Sinhalese.

This man says he expects Mr. Fonseka to bring change.

During the campaign, the president's supporters portrayed the general, who led the military campaign against the rebels, as betraying Sinhalese nationalism by cutting a deal with the Tamil National Alliance, the political wing of the defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

That struck a chord with some voters.

A Sinhalese woman says President Rajapaksa saved the country so she voted for him, expecting he will take Sri Lanka to a more prosperous level.

Before voting began, the two main political camps traded accusations of election laws violations and of preparing to use force, should the results not turn out to their opponent's satisfaction.

Sri Lanka has 14 million eligible voters.  Government officials say they expect final vote tallies to be released by mid-day, Wednesday, which has been declared a national holiday.
 

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid