Rajapaksa takes big lead as soldiers surround Fonseka hotelBy ians • Jan 27th, 2010 • Category: World, politics
Colombo, Jan 27, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa took a comfortable lead Wednesday in the country’s first election since the Tamil Tigers were defeated after 25 years of bloody war. Hours after voting was over, heavily armed soldiers surrounded the hotel where Rajapaksa’s main challenger General Sarath Fonseka was staying.
President Rajapaksa received 2,960,507 or 60.27 percent of the votes counted so far while Fonseka secured 1,690,990 or 37.99 percent, Xinhua news agency reported.
As the counting was on, in a dramatic development soldiers surrounded the hotel where Fonseka was staying.
BBC reported that armed troops were stationed outside the Cinnamon Lakeside hotel, searching every vehicle that enters.
Fonseka was quoted as saying the troops plan to arrest him if he wins the election. A military spokesman denied these claims.
The island’s sixth presidential election was held largely free of violence Tuesday with turnout estimated to be over 70 percent except the Northern Province which had been under the control of Tamil Tiger rebels for decades before it was recaptured by the troops in May 2009.
The department of elections said 14,088,500 Sri Lankans were eligible to cast their votes at 11,098 polling stations from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. to choose their next president mainly from Rajapaksa and Fonseka, though there are 22 candidates.
Rajapaksa called the election two years ahead of schedule to capitalise on his popularity among the majority Sinhalese after ending the island’s bloody ethnic conflict.
Fonseka, who commanded the army to defeat the rebels, is equally credited for the victory.
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