Sri Lanka's ruling party wins provincial election
BATTICALOA, Sri Lanka (AP) - Sri Lanka's ruling party has narrowly defeated the country's main ethnic Tamil party in a provincial election seen as a test of whether Tamils still want self-rule or are satisfied with government-led development programs in a region devastated by decades of civil war.
The Department of Elections said on Sunday that President Mahinda Rajapaksa's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won 12 seats in the Eastern Provincial Council, while the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) secured 11. Though it did not win enough seats to form a single-party government, the UPFA may get the support of a Muslim party that secured seven seats to muster a majority.
Saturday's election defeat will be seen as a setback for the TNA, which hoped a victory would be seen as a mandate for more power-sharing in Tamil-majority areas.