Reports: Rajapaksa wins in Sri Lanka

State run television says the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has won a second term in office.

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA // The Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa won re-election today in a hard-fought race against his former army chief for control of a nation trying to rebuild after a devastating civil war. Both Mr Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka, who worked together to defeat the Tamil Tiger rebels after 25 years of conflict, were considered war heroes by the Sinhalese majority. But Mr Rajapaksa's powerful political machine - and his alleged use of state resources, especially state media in his campaign - apparently overwhelmed Mr Fonseka's opposition bid to unseat him in the election yesterday. Mr Fonseka was also hoping for strong support from ethnic Tamils, who bore the brunt of the government's final offensive against the rebels, but turnout among the minority was dismal. Rupavahini state television declared Mr Rajapaksa the winner. It said that with most districts counted, Mr Rajapaksa had 5.2 million votes to 3.6 million for Mr Fonseka. Turnout among the 14 million possible voters was declared to be 70 per cent - or just under 10 million - leaving about one million votes uncounted, not enough for Fonseka to make up the 1.6 million vote margin. There was no immediate reaction from either candidate. In the hours before the announcement, hundreds of troops surrounded Mr Fonseka's hotel, reflecting the tensions surrounding the race. Just eight months ago, the men declared victory in the war against the rebels. But a bitter falling out pushed Mr Fonseka to quit, join the opposition and challenge the president. Throughout the campaign, the opposition accused Rajapaksa of plotting to rig the vote and steal the election. Mr Fonseka himself was unable to vote yesterday because he was not registered. It was unclear if he had failed to register or if he tried and was left off the voter rolls. As results were being announced, troops surrounded the Cinnamon Lake Hotel after about 400 people, including alleged army deserters, gathered inside with Mr Fonseka, the military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara said. "We don't know what's their motive, and as a protective measure we have deployed troops around the hotel, and people who go in and come out are being checked," Brig Nanayakkara said. He added that there were no plans to arrest Mr Fonseka. * AP

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

Frankenstein in Baghdad
Ahmed Saadawi
​​​​​​​Penguin Press

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