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SLFP backed by Mahinda Rajapaksa takes lead in local body elections

11 February 2018

A crucial local government election ended peacefully in Sri Lanka on Saturday as over 15 million voters cast their ballots to elect members to local government bodies, election monitors said.

Full official results are expected to be released later today. In the first officially declared result coming from the Tamil-minority dominated north, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) won the Manthai east local council in the Mullaitivu district with prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) coming second.

Police said those arrested, including eight candidates, conducted minor violations such as pasting election related posters, taking photographs of ballot papers and political party members transporting voters to polling stations.

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In the run-up to Saturday's much-delayed local government election, Sirisena had even suggested that the UNP-led government was more corrupt than the Rajapaksa's administration they toppled together in January 2015.

The UNP has in turn accused Sirisena of backstabbing and indicated it may go it alone in the next general election in 2020. The poll is considered an important test of the government's reform agenda.

Sirisena's relationship with Wickremesinghe, his main supporter when he defeated Mr Rajapaksa in the presidency in 2015, has soured in recent months.

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However, in many of these local councils, the parties winning the most seats failed to establish clear majorities, which would mean that alliances and coalitions will have to be formed at the local level.

Sri Lanka's ruling coalition is on course to suffer a shocking defeat in local elections as the party backed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is set to register a landslide victory.

The Supreme Court in September ruled that the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution to hold council elections on a single day requires two-third parliamentary majority and a nationwide referendum.

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SLFP backed by Mahinda Rajapaksa takes lead in local body elections