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COLOMBO : Key Vote in Colombo

In Sri Lanka, the teardrop-shaped Indian Ocean island traumatized by 11 years of civil war, voters go to the polls today in crucial parliamentary elections following a bloody campaign.

There are no dependable opinion polls, but many observers believe the opposition socialist People’s Alliance will oust the centrist United National Party, which has been in power for 17 years. If it wins, the People’s Alliance has promised to hold talks with the rebels who have been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland in a war that has claimed more than 30,000 lives. More than 130,000 police and troops are being deployed at the polls to prevent further violence.

Whatever the makeup of Sri Lanka’s new Parliament, President Dingiri Wijetunge will remain president until new elections for that office are held in November.


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