Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sri Lanka's ruling coalition wins provincial polls

Sri Lanka's ruling coalition won control of two provincial assemblies, according to election results Sunday, in a victory seen as an endorsement of government efforts to defeat separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.

The governing United People's Freedom Alliance coalition won 34 of 56 seats in the Central provincial council and about 65 percent of the votes counted for the North Western provincial council in Saturday's elections, the Department of Elections said. Counting in one electorate was still not complete.

Recent military victories against ethnic Tamil rebels have boosted the popularity of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's coalition government among ethnic majority Sinhalese.

Rajapaksa's main rival, the United National Party, has favored negotiations with the Tamil Tigers but has been largely sidelined amid the government's military successes.

(Associated Press)