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Sri Lanka ruling party wins landslide local vote: results

February 15, 2009 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's ruling party headed for a landslide victory in local elections seen as a referendum on the government's military campaign against Tamil rebels, official results showed Sunday. President Mahinda Rajapakse's Freedom Alliance won 36 seats out of 58 in the Central Provincial council.

The alliance also had collected nearly 60 percent of the votes counted in the North Western provincial council, election officials said.

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Rajapakse had turned Saturday's vote into a referendum on his military campaign to crush separatist Tamil Tiger guerrillas who are cornered in the north-east of the island.

The president has said he hoped to defeat the Tamil Tigers within days. The guerrillas have been leading a drawn-out campaign for independence since 1972.

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