Sri Lanka’s ruling UPFA in tight race with UNP

mahinda-rajapaksaCOLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), led by President Mahinda Rajpaksa, won Saturday’s provincial polls in the Sinhala-majority Uva Province by a narrow margin, signalling an apparent setback to the ruling alliance despite the victory.

The alliance secured 19 seats, including two bonus seats, six less compared to the 25 it held in its last term.

The United National Party (UNP), Sri Lanka’s main Opposition, secured 13 seats while the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) won 2 seats.

Amid speculation of early presidential elections in January 2015 — where Rajapaksa will target a third consecutive term — the results declared on Sunday pointed to a closer contest between the ruling UPFA and the UNP, which has secured six more seats from the last poll in 2009.

In Badulla, one of the two districts constituting Uva Province, the UPFA secured 47.37% of the votes, while the UNP got 44.79%. In Monaragala district, the other, a traditional stronghold of the ruling coalition, the UPFA received 58.34% of the votes and UNP received 31.92%.

Following UPFA’s win, its lead candidate Shasheendra Rajapaksa , nephew of the president, who was Chief Minister of the province, will continue for another term.

The province is home to a small percentage of Tamils of Indian origin, who are employed largely in tea and rubber estates across Badulla and Monaragala. – FROM THE HINDU

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