Sept 21, Colombo: Polls opened in the Northern, Central and North Western Provinces in Sri Lanka this morning and amid heavy security historic voting began in Northern Province for the first time in 25 years.
Election for the administration in the Northern Province, which was under the control of the Tamil Tiger terrorists until their defeat in May 2009, is being held for the first time since the establishment of the provincial council system in 1987.
Voting began at 7:00 a.m. local time at 832 polling stations in the five districts - Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Mannar - of the Province for 719,477 registered voters.
Two teams of foreign observers will be monitoring the polls in the north along with some 2,000 local election monitors from the People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) and Center for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) .
Over 900 candidates from 57 political parties and 28 independent groups are contesting for the 38 slots in the Council.
The main contest is between the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and the main Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
The historic vote is seen as a test to decide whether the predominantly Tamil province wants more opportunities to improve the lives and the region or the people want more autonomy.
The ruling party is expected to win the other two provincial councils that are polling today while the TNA is expected to win the Northern PC.
Voting will continue till 4:00 p. m. and the counting of ballots will begin at 7:00 p.m. at 82 centers in the three provinces.
According to the Election Commissioner the first result would be released by 10:00 p. m. and all the results will be released by 6:00 a.m. Sunday.
The Election Secretariat has set up a center to receive election related complaints and separate telephone numbers have been provided for each of the districts where the polls are being conducted to lodge complaints.
The Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya says that all measures have been taken to ensure a free and fair election.