Sri Lanka president takes comfortable lead in election

14:01, January 27, 2010      

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Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is taking a comfortable lead over his main rival former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka with nearly half of the votes counted till 10 a.m. (0430 GMT) on Wednesday.

President Rajapaksa received 2,960,507 (or 60.27 percent) votes while Fonseka secured 1,690,990 (37.99 percent) votes.

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

The island's sixth presidential election was held largely free of violence on 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. local time (0130 GMT to 1030 GMT) to choose their next president mainly from Rajapaksa and Fonseka though there are 22 candidates.

Source: Xinhua
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