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Page last updated at 16:04 GMT, Sunday, 28 December 2008

'No clear winner' in Kashmir poll

National Conference President Omar Abdullah in Srinagar, 28 December 2008
National Conference supporters celebrated their poll successes

State assembly elections in Indian-administered Kashmir are unlikely to see any clear winner, reports say.

Election officials say that despite a high turnout, partial results show that no party will win a majority.

The polls were held in phases over several months amid concerns that separatists could disrupt voting.

Correspondents say India's governing Congress Party is poised to win 17 seats and is likely to play a key role in building a viable coalition.

The party with the largest projected number of seats, the pro-Indian National Conference, is expected to win 28 seats, reports say.

But that would still fall well short of the number needed to win a majority in the 87-seat chamber, leaving the state of Jammu and Kashmir in electoral deadlock and reliant on a coalition government.

National Conference President Omar Abdullah said his party would be "open to an alliance with Congress" in an effort to form a viable administration.

Map of Kashmir

Separatists opposed to Indian rule boycotted the poll, saying it served to legitimise India's presence in Kashmir.

The region is divided between Indian and Pakistani control, but has a majority Muslim population - the only one of India's states without a Hindu majority.

Some separatists favour independence, while others would like Kashmir to be part of Pakistan.

Violence in the region has decreased recently but militants are still fighting to end India's rule in the portion of Kashmir it controls.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since 1989, when an armed insurgency against Indian rule began.



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