Rajapaksa maintains lead in Sri Lanka's presidential poll

10:34, January 27, 2010      

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Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa extended his lead over his main rival former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka in the presidential election results being announced Wednesday.

With over 1 million votes counted by 6 a.m. local time (0030 GMT) Rajapaksa had recorded 689,261 or 60.01 percent against Fonseka's 442,292 or 38.51 percent.

Rajapaksa who called the election two years earlier is now assured of winning the re-election, government officials said.

The island's sixth presidential election was held largely free of violence on Tuesday with a turnout estimated to be over 70 percent.

The Department of Elections said 14,088,500 Sri Lankans were eligible to cast their votes at 11,098 polling station from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time (0130 GMT to 1030 GMT) 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 capitalize on his popularity among the majority Sinhalese after ending the island's bloody ethnic conflict.

Fonseka, who commanded the Army to defeat the rebels from 2006 to 2009, is equally credited for the victory.

With final results being expected Wednesday morning, both sides are asking their supporters to celebrate the victory peacefully and with dignity.

Source: Xinhua
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