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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid