- Title: SRI LANKA: Fear of violence overshadows poll
- Date: 26th January 2010
- Summary: RATHGAMA, SRI LANKA (JANUARY 25, 2010) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF POSTERS OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE FORMER ARMY COMMANDER GENERAL SARATH FONSEKA ON A WALL. VEHICLES PASSING BY GALLE, SRI LANKA (JANUARY 25, 2010) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FISHERMEN ON A BEACH PULLING IN LONG FISHING NET (SOUNDBITE) (Sinhala) FISHERMAN W.K. SARATH, SAYING: "We would like to see the country developed so everybody has enough to eat and drink, that our children could walk on the road without fear. " VARIOUS OF FISHMONGERS STALL (SOUNDBITE) (Sinhala) FISHMONGER NISSANKA MANJU SAYING: "If we could maintain the business at these levels, that's enough. Now people do not buy fish when they hear the price for a 500-gram fish. It's difficult to sell at least 20 kg fish a day." CUSTOMER BUYING FISH FISH ON DISPLAY TANGALLE, SRI LANKA (JANUARY 25, 2010) (REUTERS) DOWNTOWN BUSY STREET VARIOUS POLICE OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS MANNING THE STREETS, PEOPLE MOVING ALONG (SOUNDBITE) (Sinhala) R.P. MAYURAVATHI, SAYING: "There should be better plans implemented. The country should be taken forward, while reducing the poverty." (SOUNDBITE) (Sinhala) P.D. BANDULA SAYING: "We expect more development in the future." (SOUNDBITE) (Sinhala) PREMELATHA MADIWELA SAYING: "We have got peace. We would like to go forward like this." VARIOUS OF POLICE AND MILITARY SECURITY IN STREETS
- Embargoed: 10th February 2010 12:00
- Location: Sri Lanka
- Country: Sri Lanka
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAE07LD1OYU6TA3CCDAL2BRIK0H
- Story Text: Election fever has gripped Sri Lanka as voters prepare to flock to polls on Tuesday (January 26) and posters of the two main candidates stare from the walls.
Former army commander General Sarath Fonseka is challenging President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the first national vote in the Indian Ocean island country since the government declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatists in May.
More than 14 million people are registered to cast their ballots on Tuesday.
Whoever wins will take the reins of a $40 billion economy still waiting to taste the real fruits of peace, despite some large Indian and Chinese investments into infrastructure and a stock market that was one of 2009's best performers.
Hard working fishermen from Galle, south of capital Colombo are hoping for a better future.
"We would like to see the country developed so everybody has enough to eat and drink, that our children could walk on the road without fear," said fisherman W.K. Sarath.
Fishmonger Nissanka Manju fears for his business.
"If we could maintain the business at these levels, that's enough. Now people do not buy fish when they hear the price for a 500-gram fish. It's difficult to sell at least 20 kg fish a day," he said.
Further south in Tangalle, President Rajapaksa's hometown, voters seek development projects, hinting their inclination to the incumbent.
"There should be better plans implemented. The country should be taken forward, while reducing the poverty," said R.P.Mayuravathi, a housewife.
P.D.Bandula echoed the sentiment by saying "we expect more development in the future" while Premelatha Madiwela added: "we have got peace. We would like to go forward like this."
There is little difference between the Rajapaksa and Fonseka campaign platforms, both of which are heavy on populist subsidies, pledges of pay raises to Sri Lanka's bloated public sector and promises of rural development.
More than 68,000 police will be deployed to protect polling stations and there are fears voting day could be bloody. Campaigning so far has been beset by more than 800 reported acts of violence and there have been at least four deaths.
There are only a handful of independent international election monitors.
Both Rajapaksa and Fonseka urged their supporters to remain calm ahead of the vote.
Fonseka has said he is confident of victory, but accused the government of scheming to steal it from him.
Rajapaksa's campaign denies planning any voter fraud, and says it will not need to do so to secure a win.
The results are expected to be known on Wednesday (January 27). While there are no reliable opinion polls, many expect a very close fight between Rajapaksa and Fonseka.
There are 20 other candidates, but none are seen as serious contenders.
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