Sri Lanka's ruling party takes early lead in polls

Last Updated: Thu, Apr 08, 2010 22:30 hrs

Sri Lanka's ruling party is well ahead of the fractured opposition in parliamentary elections which returned the country's lowest ever turnout, early results showed Friday.

President Mahinda Rajapakse's United People's Freedom Alliance was ahead in six out of the seven polling divisions declared so far following Thursday's legislative polls, according to the department of Elections.

Counting of another 195 polling divisions was underway and election officials said the ruling party was leading in most areas, indicating that it could form a government with a comfortable majority.

However, the turn out of Thursday's ballot was expected to be between 50 to 55 percent of the country's 14 million voters which would make it the parliamentary poll with the lowest voter participation.

The previous low was 63 percent when Sinhalese militants and Tamil rebels attempted to sabotage the 1989 elections by killing dozens of candidates, their supporters and election officials.

President Rajapakse who won re-election in January at a separate election was widely expected to consolidate his power through Thursday's vote for the 225-member national parliament.

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