Sri Lanka goes to polls today

A poll official waits for his transport to arrive at the district secretariat. (AFP)

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse vowed yesterday to ensure the first post-war nationwide election goes off peacefully, as he prepared to face his former army chief after an acrimonious campaign.

Rajapakse urged the authorities to conduct a free and fair vote today, seeking to counter opposition claims that he would launch a coup to cling on to power if defeated at the ballot box.

"The Sri Lanka Government calls for a peaceful election, and stands committed to taking whatever steps deemed necessary to ensure the same," his office said in a statement.

Rajapakse, who ordered the military offensive that ended the 37-year conflict against Tamil rebels in May last year, faces a strong challenge from Sarath Fonseka, the army chief who led the troops in battle.

A total of 68,000 police and 250,000 officials will be on duty for the poll.


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