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The BBC's Mike Wooldridge
"This election has left the Peoples Alliance in the best position"
 real 56k

Friday, 13 October, 2000, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
New government for Sri Lanka
Ballot boxes
The vote is believed to have been unfair
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga's ruling People's Alliance has formed a new government after gaining the support of two small parties.

Muslim Congress leader
A largely Muslim alliance is giving its support
The prime minister of the previous government, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, was sworn into the same post, although the rest of the government was not immediately announced.

The country's general election on Tuesday resulted in the People's Alliance gaining the largest rally of seats, but falling six seats short of a majority.

Both the Eelam People's Democratic Party, a former Tamil rebel group, and the largely Muslim National Unity Alliance, with five and 10 seats respectively, agreed to join the new coalition, giving the People's Alliance an overall majority.

Mrs Kumaratunga, who heads the People's Alliance, was re-elected as Sri Lanka's president last December.

Referendum

The main opposition leader, Ranil Wickremasinghe of the United National Party (UNP), warned that the new government would be short-lived.

"I don't give them the life span of a six-year term," he said.

The election was widely seen as a referendum on a controversial government devolution package to end the 17-year war with the separatist Tamil Tigers, in which more than 61,000 people have died.

President Kumaratunga is pushing to change the constitution, in a move that will grant greater autonomy to Tamil majority areas.

Since her party held only a one-seat majority in the last parliament, MPs had blocked her attempts to pass the new constitution.

Poll problems

The PA won 18 seats more than its main rival, the United National Party, which won 89 seats in the 225-member parliament.

The remaining seats were shared by the leftist JVP, minority Tamil and Muslim parties.

Ranil Wickremasinghe
Mr Wickremasinghe's UNP won 89 seats
But Election Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake has admitted that the vote, which was marked by violence, intimidation and allegations of vote-rigging, could be interpreted as not being free and fair.

The election commissioner annulled the results from 23 polling stations, which officials identified had suffered from the forcible stuffing of ballot boxes.

The Marxist JVP (People's Liberation Front) won an unprecedented 10 seats. The mainstream ethnic Tamil party, the Tamil United Liberation Front, won five seats.

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See also:

11 Oct 00 | South Asia
Analysis: Time for co-operation?
10 Oct 00 | South Asia
Violence mars Sri Lanka poll
06 Oct 00 | South Asia
Sri Lankan leader's war pledge
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Q&A: Sri Lanka's election
06 Oct 00 | South Asia
Sri Lanka's parties offer little choice
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