Sat, 21 Sep 2013 09:00:00 GMT | By IANS

Polling on in three Sri Lankan provinces

Provincial elections are happening after 25 years in the Northern Province along with elections in the North Western and Central provinces


Polling on in three Sri Lankan provinces (© Reuters)

Colombo: Ballotting began Saturday to elect members of three provincial councils, including the Tamil-majority Northern Province, in Sri Lanka.

Over four million people are eligible to vote.

All arrangements have been made by the election secretariat for free and fair elections in the Northern, North Western and Central provinces, the government's news portal news.lk reported.

Voting began at 7 a.m. and will continue till 4 p.m.

Security has been provided for voters to cast their ballots.

The election secretariat has taken steps to introduce new transparent ballot boxes instead of the traditional wooden boxes in select polling centres.

The ballot boxes have been imported from India and are being used as a pilot project.

A total of 4,363,252 registered voters from the three provinces are eligible to cast their votes.

They include 1,889,557 from the Central Province, 719,477 from the Northern Province, and 1,754,218 from the North Western Province.

There will be 476 counting centres in the three provinces.

The election department will begin counting at 6 p.m., and the first postal voting result will be announced at 10 p.m.

BBC said the Tamil-majority Northern province, which was first promised such a body decades ago, is the only region which has never had its own council.

"We want a settlement for the Tamils. That's why we came to vote this time. We've been waiting so many years - now we want peace," an elderly woman was quoted as saying.

The editor of the main northern newspaper, Uthayan, told BBC that a whole print run of a fake newspaper had appeared, posing as his paper and falsely telling readers that the main opposition group, the Tamil National Alliance, was boycotting the election.

The fake paper also said a prominent candidate for the opposition Tamil National Alliance, Ananthi Sasitharan, had defected to the government.

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