Sri Lanka’s local polls end with over 70% turnout

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Colombo, Feb 10 (IANS) 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.

Voting started at 7 a.m. and ended at 4:00 p.m.

Election monitors said 15,760,867 voters or some 70 per cent of the total eligible voters cast their votes throughout the country, Xinhua news agency reported.

President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and former President Mahinda Rajapakse were among those who voted early in the morning.

Voting for the local government elections was the first to be conducted by the newly-established independent Election Commission as well as the police under the Independent Police Commission.

It was also the first island-wide poll to be held since the coalition government of Sirisena and Wickremesinghe took office in August 2015. The poll was considered an important test of the government’s reform agenda.

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The government said 65,758 police officers, 41,178 Special Task Force officers and 7,278 other officers were deployed for the local government elections.

The police said that till noon, 11 people had been arrested across the country for violating election laws. No election-related deaths were reported.

–IANS

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