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* [2-UPDATE] Sri Lanka votes for first post-war parliamentary election
Thu, Apr 8, 2010, 06:00 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 08, Colombo: Polls for the first post-war parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka opened this morning at 7:00 a.m. amid heavy security. The polls will close at 4:00 p.m.

This is the first parliamentary election held after winning the war against LTTE terrorism. Over 14 million registered voters are eligible to cast their ballots at 11,098 polling centers throughout the country including the former rebel controlled Northern and Eastern provinces.

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was elected to a second term earlier this year has already cast his vote early this morning at the D.A Rajapaksa Vidyalaya in his hometown of Medamulana in Hambanthota District.

Voters are to elect 196 candidates to the 225-member parliament. A total of 7,620 candidates representing 36 parties and 301 independent groups are vying for a slot.

Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dishanayake called on the voters to cast their ballots early to prevent voter fraud. The government says it has taken every measure to ensure a free and fair election.

Sri Lanka Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mahinda Balasuriya has instructed the police to take severe action against troublemakers at polling stations and counting centers during the polls.

Nearly 60,000 police officers have been deployed to ensure security at the poling booths and counting centers. They will be assisted by over 19,000 armed forces personnel and Special Task Force (STF) police to maintain security.

Meanwhile, one of the accredited election monitoring groups, People's Action For Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) says they have deployed 11,000 local poll observers in addition to the 16 international observers who arrived in the country last week.

(Pictures by Chandana Perera)

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