Its an historic day in Sri Lanka. The country is staging its first national election since the end of a 25 year conflict last May.
Its the first time in nearly three decades voters have gone to the polls hoping to be free from the threat of Tamil Tiger separatists.
Four loud blast were heard in the northern city of Jaffna on the Indian ocean island before the polls opened but no one was injured.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is attempting to win a second term. After casting his vote early this morning he told supporters, “we are getting ready to enjoy a better tomorrow.” He has pledged to dole out costly subsidies which economists say will be a heavy economic burden on the island.
His nearest challenger is former ally General Sarath Fonseka who has reportedly enjoyed a surge of support. Both have traded accusations of corruption. Whoever wins will have to deal with unemployment and the rising cost of living.
More than 14 million people are registered to vote against a backdrop of heavy security and tension. 68,000 police and a quarter of a million election officials have spread out across the island. The result is expected on Wednesday.