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Tigers forced Tamils out of Sri Lanka vote: monitors

Sri Lankans voted Thursday in presidential elections but minority Tamils who could tip the balance in the tight race were forced out of the ballot by Tiger rebels and sporadic violence, poll monitors said. Sri Lankans voted Thursday in presidential elections but minority Tamils who could tip the balance in the tight race were forced out of the ballot by Tiger rebels and sporadic violence, poll monitors said. The People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) said Tamil Tiger rebels had clearly signalled that Tamils, despite their kingmaker status in the two-horse race between two majority Sinhalese candidates, should not vote.

"Given the non participation of a significant number of Tamil voters at these elections due to the boycott call (by the Tigers) and intimidation, PAFFREL is deeply concerned about the effective disenfranchisement of these voters," the main private poll monitoring body said.

The future of the island's faltering peace process with the Tigers, as well as the deteriorating economy after decades of war and last year's tsunami, emerged as the main issues in the face-off between Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

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