SLFP backed by Mahinda Rajapaksa takes lead in local body elections

Sri Lanka ex-leader-backed party set for landslide victory in local polls

Official election results were being compiled on Sunday night, but estimated figures showed that the SLPP had clinched 45 per cent of the vote as against UNP's 33 per cent.

Election monitors confirmed that the 2018 Local Government election is the most peaceful election ever held in the country after a lapse of several decades.

The election would be a stern test for the unity government of President Maithripala Sirisena and his Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Counting of votes has been completed at all the wards but election commission said it will declare the results for each body after doing the calculations.

Rajapakse's party comfortably won in all regions bar the battled-scarred north and east where, as president, he brutally crushed a separatist movement to end the island's ethnic war in 2009. In a statement, he thanked the voters and appealed for calm in celebrating the victory.

The alliance between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe - who teamed up to defeat Rajapakse in a presidential election in 2015 - has frayed as both men have levelled allegations of corruption and backstabbing against the other. Sirisena faces a sterner challenge from his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sirisena's relationship with Wickremesinghe, his main supporter when he defeated Rajapaksa in the presidency in 2015, has soured in recent months. Rajapaksa had backed opposition alliance which was contesting on anti-government plank. Son of former President and Member of Parliament Namal Rajapaksa tweeted that the people have spoken their minds and that they want change. In order to postpone the polls by a year, the government proposed an amendment to the Constitution to hold elections for all nine provincial councils on a single day. Also there is a 25 per cent guaranteed women's representation in each council.



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