Friday, April 09, 2010, Rabi us Sani 23, 1431 A.H  
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 Sri Lanka ruling party claims election victory
 Updated at: 1304 PST,  Friday, April 09, 2010
 COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's ruling party claimed victory Friday in parliamentary polls, as counting showed it far ahead of the divided opposition but short of a two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution.

Thursday's vote was marked by record low turnout and reports of voter intimidation that resulted in fresh voting being ordered in two of the island's 22 electoral districts.

With nearly half the ballots counted, President Mahinda Rajapakse's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) had secured 63.27 percent of the vote, with the main opposition United National Party a distant second with 27.64 percent.

"We have won the election," said Transport Minister and UPFA spokesman Dullas Alahaperuma, who predicted the collated results would give his party 138 to 142 seats in the 225-member parliament.

The widely expected victory for the ruling party will further strengthen Rajapakse's grip on power just three months after he won a second term as president by an emphatic margin of 1.8 million votes.
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