Colombo, November 16 (newsin.asia) Twenty six people were arrested on Saturday for violating election laws as Sri Lankans voted in a crucial Presidential election. But the electorate voted mostly peacefully, police spokesperson, Ruwan Gunasekara, told journalists here.
The arrests were made across the island for violations like taking pictures inside polling booths and voter intimidation, he said.
The average polling was higher than 80%, with Ratnapura and Monaragala reporting 84% polling.
Voting began at 7 am and ended at 5 pm local time.
District-Wise Voting Percentages
Badulla – 80%
Polonnaruwa 80% ;
Anuradhapura – 80%
Hambantota – 80%
Nuwara Eliya – 80%
Kandy – 80%
Ampara – 80%
Kalurata – 80%
Colombo – 80%
Galle, Matale, Matara and Kurunegala – over 80%
Puttalam – 75%
Kilinochchi – 73%
Jaffna – 66%
Batticaloa – 77%
Gampaha – 81%
Kegalle – 79%
Trincomalee – 83%
Mullaitivu – 76%
Vavuniya – 75%
Mannar – 71%
Lower polling in Tamil and Muslim areas
As one can see from the district-vice polling figures stated above, polling was heavy in the Sinhala-majority districts and significantly less in the Tamil and Muslim areas. None of the districts with a significant Tamil and Muslim presence, except Nuwara Eliya and Trincomalee, touched 80%, while 80% plus was the norm in the Sinhala majority areas.
The Sinhalas are the majority in Sri Lanka accounting for 70% of the total population of 21 million.
The Tamil-majority district of Jaffna had the lowest polling (66%). Kilinochchi reported (73%); Batticaloa (77%); Mullaitivu (76%), and Vavuniya (75%). Mannar and Puttalam which have a significant Muslim population reported 71% and 75% respectively.
This is not good news for the ruling United National Party (UNP)’s candidate Sajith Premadasa who is relying heavily on Tamil and Muslim votes to make up for lack of adequate support in the Sinhala majority areas. In the latter, his principal rival, Gotabaya Rajapaksa of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), has great support.
Most predictions give an edge to Gotabaya Rajapaksa but elections can be as unpredictable as a cricket match. Some predict a landslide for Gotabaya but there are others who say that none of the candidates will cross 50% plus one to win. They predict a second round of counting in which the second preferences will be counted. There is also provision for a third preference.
The grim prediction about a second round of counting is based on the fact none of the three principal candidates is a top-notch politician. Sajith had only been a third rung leader in the UNP although he was officially its “Deputy Leader”. Gotabaya is a newcomer to politics though he shone as Defense and Urban Development Secretary from 2005 to 2014.
(The picture featured about shows a polling station in Colombo: Photo: Ada Derana)