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US commends high turnout in Sri Lanka

[AFP, Wednesday, 27 January 2010 09:32 No Comment]

The United States on Tuesday commended Sri Lanka on the high turnout in its first post-war presidential election amid a brewing dispute over the opposition candidate’s legitimacy.

"We commend the people of Sri Lanka for a 72-percent turnout. That is something that is truly remarkable," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.

As polls closed, the government said it would contest the legitimacy of the main opposition candidate, Sarath Fonseka, after the retired general said he could not cast a ballot as he was not registered on the electoral list.

"There’s nothing that I understand right now that would call into question the results, but let’s wait and see what they are," Crowley said when asked about the challenge to Fonseka.

"By all indications, it was a spirited election and we look forward for the results," Crowley said.

Fonseka, the former army chief, took on his former boss, incumbent Mahinda Rajapakse, after a bitter and personal campaign that saw both sides accuse the other of planning foul play.

The two men were instrumental in leading a final offensive last year that killed the top leadership of the Tamil Tiger rebels, ending a nearly three-decade war that was among Asia’s bloodiest.

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