Sri Lanka's Tamils elect ex-rebel Tamil party at polls

By REUTERS
July 24, 2011 14:21

 
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KILINOCHCHI, Sri Lanka - Tamils in Sri Lanka's war-weary north elected the political proxy of the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels in local polls held for the first time since at least 1999, drubbing President Mahinda Rajapaksa's ruling party, election results showed on Sunday.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), a party formerly controlled by the separatist Tigers, won 15 of 20 local councils in the old northern war zone and three of six in the east, which was Tiger territory until the military ran them out in 2007.

"This means Tamils like freedom from a military regime and protecting their sociocultural identity with a political solution versus the government's development plans," said Kusal Perera, an analyst and frequent government critic at the Center for Social Democracy.

Despite some intimidation and vote-buying, turnout came in above 50 percent amid skepticism by the mostly Tamil electorate of any kind of post-war political change. Poll monitors said the violence and election malfeasance did not have much effect.

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