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    Sri Lankans Vote in General Elections


    by NTDTelevision

    On Thursday, voting stations across Sri Lanka were heavily guarded as voters cast their ballots for new members of parliament. The new government is expected to bring stability to the country and to strengthen the president’s grip on power.

    [W. Sharmala, Voter]: (Male, Sinhala)
    "What I hope for is a bright future."

    [S. Wimaladasa, Voter]: (Male, Sinhala)
    "What we are hoping from this election is that Mahinda Rajapaksa (the President) will have a good government."

    Thursday's election of the nation's 225 members of parliament will be the first since a three-decade war with Tamil Tiger separatists ended nearly a year ago.

    Rajapaksa was re-elected to a second six-year term in January. He defeated General Sarath Fonseka, the war hero who is now facing two court martials for being involved in politics while serving in the military. Despite being jailed, Fonseka is now running for parliament.

    Some hope for a change.

    [R. Kumarasiri, Voter]: (Male, Sinhala)
    "I want a change. A change where Sarath Fonseka (former army commander) will win. We like that."

    Rajapaksa has pushed for economic development since the civil war ended. But the end of the war did not bring immediate stability. Western countries and the United Nations have kept up pressure over possible war crimes and human rights violations under Rajapaksa's rule.

    Rajapaksa and his allies are aiming to win 150 seats, or the two-thirds majority he needs to change the constitution.

    More than 14 million voters are registered to cast ballots.

    The campaigns have been relatively calm by Sri Lankan standards, with more than 340 acts of violence and one death.