Sri Lanka has held its first postwar poll since the army’s defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels last year.
Around 50 percent of the electorate cast their vote for a new parliament amid heavy security.
The result is expected to reinforce the power of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was re-elected in January and is now seeking a two thirds parliamentary majority. This would allow his party to make changes to the country’s constitution.
While securing a majority is far from certain, the opposition is deeply divided.
Former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe from the country’s largest opposition party, United National Front, is facing a leadership challenge following a series of humilliating election losses.
Meanwhile defeated presidential candidate and former army chief Sarath Fonseka is currently in jail facing court martial.
Many Srilankans hope that the end of the elections will signal a new era of stability, peace and reconciliation.
Meanwhile Tamils in the war-ravaged north of the country have been able to vote freely for the first time since the end of the 25 year long civil conflict.
More than two hundred thousand remain displaced by the war, the majority living in refugee camps.
One of the toughest tasks facing the new parliament will be how to reconcile with the minority Tamil community.