BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Sunday, 4 April, 2004, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
President wins Sri Lanka election
President Chandrika Kumaratunga
Kumaratunga - voters appear to have backed her criticisms of peace talks
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga's party has won the country's parliamentary elections, but without enough seats for a majority.

Final results showed the United People's Freedom Alliance had 105 seats, compared to 82 for Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe's party.

Mrs Kumaratunga's party is expected to hold talks with smaller parties to form a coalition government.

The poll focused on the president's criticisms of the peace process.

Total seats: 225
Total ballots: 10 million
Freedom Alliance: 46%
United National Party: 38%
Tamil National Alliance: 7%
Buddhist party: 6%

The two are long-standing rivals. Mr Wickramasinghe's United National Party won narrowly in December 2001, making him prime minister with a mandate to negotiate peace with the rebels.

But the president says he has jeopardised national security by offering too much ground to the rebels.

Many voters have also complained that, despite two years of ceasefire, they have not seen any peace dividend, with the cost of living constantly rising.

BBC correspondent Frances Harrison says a picture is emerging of a much more divided Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe

The majority Sinhalese community appears lukewarm about the peace process, which has been stalled for months.

Tamils in the north and east of Sri Lanka appear to have overwhelmingly backed the party supported by the rebels, the Tamil National Alliance.

Any future coalition government may contain smaller left-wing or religious parties opposing any federal solution to the conflict with the Tigers.

An additional complicating factor in the peace process is the split that has recently developed within the Tamil Tigers.

Peaceful vote

Voting on Friday was generally free of violence although there were 250 complaints of intimidation or ballot stuffing during the polls, Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake said.

Sri Lankan voters highlight their dissatisfaction with the economy and politicians

But, he added: "Generally speaking, election laws were very well enforced."

A record 6,024 candidates representing 24 political parties and nearly 200 other groups took part in the election.

For the first time there were election monitors at every polling station in the country.

Turnout in the north of the island was reported to be particularly heavy as Tamils there took the opportunity to vote for the first time in a decade.

Although there were few reports of violence, Tamil parties opposing the Tamil National Alliance accused the Tigers of intimidation and malpractice.

The BBC's Frances Harrison
"The Buddhist monks did unexpectedly well"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific