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The BBC's Mike Wooldridge
"Polling officials say they hope to conduct a free and fair election"
 real 56k

Policy analyst, Paikiasothy Saravanamutly
"There were a series of violations ranging from murder to intimidation"
 real 56k

Election commissioner Dayananda Dissayanake
"I have taken measures to curb malpractices"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 10 October, 2000, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Violence mars Sri Lanka poll
Polling station
Tight security was in place for the vote
An overnight curfew has been imposed in Sri Lanka after general elections marred by outbreaks of violence and complaints of vote rigging.

At least six people were reported killed in election-related incidents.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the world's first woman PM
The poll was widely seen as a referendum on a controversial government peace plan to end the war with Tamil separatists.

It was also overshadowed by the death of the country's former prime minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, who died of a heart attack at the age of 84, shortly after casting her vote.

She was the world's first elected female prime minister and the mother of current President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Violence and fraud

President Kumaratunga said she had received complaints from two senior politicians about the situation in the central district of Kandy, including violence from her own supporters.

Election officials carry ballot-boxes
Voters were apprehensive of more violence
As a result, she had ordered the deployment of paramilitary forces to the area, and would back the election commission on any action it decided to take.

The chief elections commissioner, Dayananda Dissanayake, said there were "serious incidents" in four of the country's 22 electoral districts.

Election officials and independent monitors are reported as saying they received more than 200 complaints of electoral fraud.

These include violence, voter impersonation and seizing of ballot boxes.

A Muslim party which supported the ruling People's Alliance (PA) described the violence as some of the worst ever in an election.

Rauf Hakeem, joint leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, said: "We will not have anything to do with the PA after the election."

Reports from the northern city of Jaffna said it has been shelled by Tiger rebels shortly before voting started.

Appeal

President Kumaratunga has said that the elections offered Sri Lanka its last chance for peace.

She is hoping to win sufficient seats to pass a controversial new constitution which would grant regional autonomy to the north, where the minority Tamils are dominant.

She wants to reduce support for Tamil Tiger rebels, who have been fighting a bitter 17-year war for independence.

The opposition says that the war has worsened during the People's Alliance Party's period in power and that the Sri Lankan economy has consistently under-performed.

More than 5,000 candidates are competing under the country's proportional representation system for 225 seats in parliament.

Results are expected later on Tuesday.

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See also:

06 Oct 00 | South Asia
Sri Lankan leader's war pledge
05 Oct 00 | South Asia
Sri Lanka election rally blast
09 Oct 00 | South Asia
Q&A: Sri Lanka's election
06 Oct 00 | South Asia
Sri Lanka's parties offer little choice
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