Sri Lanka's ruling party wins provincial poll

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Colombo, Aug 24 (UNI) Sri Lanka's ruling party today won a crucial vote for two of the island's nine provincial councils and described it as an endorsement to continue its military onslaught against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighting to carve out a separate state in the war-torn north and east.

The Department of Elections said the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won 20 seats on the 33-member North-Central provincial council and 25 seats in the 44-member Sabaragamuwa council while the main opposition United National Party (UNP) won 29 seats in both the councils.

A former partner of the ruling UPFA, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) managed to win only three seats.

Hailing the poll win as a ''victory for all our people'', President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in a statement, ''There is no doubt that public opinion represented in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces is the opinion of the entire country.'' ''While the majority of our people have been able to defeat the many vicious efforts of forces that were ranged against the country, the strength and morale that our heroic troops would receive from this victory in their battles to finally end terrorism from our country is immeasurable,'' Mr Rajapaksa added.

UNI XC SKB AS1644

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