Polling underway in Sri Lanka to elect a new President

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In Sri Lanka, polling for Presidential elections is being held amidst stray incidents of violence and coercion. Police said some unidentified persons blocked and fired on buses carrying voters near Anuradhapura. There were, however, no casualties reported. The Police is investigating the matter. 30 per cent polling was recorded till 10 AM.

An election monitoring agency reported that there were some attempts to coerce voters to vote for a particular candidate. There were also reports of the army putting up roadblocks in minority-dominated Northern Province, which have been removed with police intervention.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has called on the public to vote peacefully and maintain law and order for free and fair polls. Voting began this morning to elect a new Presiden. A total of 35 candidates are in the fray. The main contest is between former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajpaksa and Minister Sajith Premadasa. Both the candidates have campaigned mainly on national security and good governance.

Gotabaya has the popular support of majority Sinhala community while Sajith is banking on his support amongst minority Tamil and Muslim communities.

Around 1.6 crore people are eligible to exercise their franchise. Over 12 thousand polling stations have been set up all over the country. Counting of votes will be held after the polling is over, and the results are expected by tomorrow.

A candidate needs to poll over 50 per cent of valid votes to be declared a winner, else, the second preference votes have to be counted. This is the first time in the country’s history that neither the sitting President nor the Prime Minister is contesting the elections. (AIR)

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