UN chief relieved at Sri Lanka’s relatively peaceful polls

UNITED NATIONS, January 27, 2010 (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday voiced relief that Sri Lanka’s presidential polls went off relatively peacefully and urged the country’s political parties to abide by the official results. “I had been concerned at the level of violence during the campaign,” Ban told reporters here. “I am relieved that the vote yesterday appears to have been relatively peaceful, despite some violent incidents.”

The UN secretary general called on Sri Lankan parties “to abide by the decision and rules and regulations, including addressing any electoral grievances.”

“I truly hope that all sides will see the wisdom of acting with restraint and responsibility in the interest of the nation. This would bode well for future elections and national harmony,” he added.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse won a bruising re-election battle, but the result was rejected by his opponent who spent the day holed up in a hotel surrounded by troops.

The country’s election commissioner said Rajapakse had secured 57.9 percent of the popular vote in Tuesday’s presidential poll — the first since a victory over separatist Tamil rebels last May ended a decades-long civil war. Rajapakse’s main challenger, forme