Sri Lanka Tamil party wins election in island's north

A political party representing Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority won a landslide victory in the first election to be held in the island's predominantly Tamil north since government forces crushed an insurgency there four years ago, in results declared Sunday.

The Tamil National Alliance swept all five districts of Northern Province in Saturday's election, taking 30 of 38 seats that were up for grabs in the Northern Provincial Council.

Seven other seats in the council were won by the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, while the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress took one seat.

The UPFA comfortably won two other elections held simultaneously in Central and North Western provinces, which are populated mainly by the island's majority ethnic Sinhalese.

Commenting on the election results, a South Asian diplomat said, on condition of anonymity, "The Tamils have signaled that despite massive government expenditure on developing infrastructure in the north since the war ended, they resent domination by a government of majority Sinhalese."

The TNA, which was accused of being a proxy for the Tamil Tiger rebels during the three-decade long civil war that ended n May 2009, advocates greater autonomy for Tamil-majority areas of Sri Lanka while stopping short of calling for a separate state.

It comprises a broad coalition including both moderates and former Tamil Tiger fighters.

Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said the poll was "largely free and fair."

But there have been many complaints of irregularities during the campaign period and the election itself.