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Sri Lanka election called 'mandate' to defeat rebel Tamil Tigers

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Sri Lanka's government has triumphed in the first provincial elections to be held in the east of the island in two decades.

Saturday's elections were held in a region that until last year was partly controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), more commonly known as the Tamil Tigers. The vote is a key plank in the government's campaign against the rebels: to introduce limited devolution of power to the island while crushing the Tigers with military force.

The ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won 20 of the 37 seats in the new Provincial Council. It achieved this through an alliance with the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP), a party made up of Tiger defectors known for their recruitment of child soldiers and for human rights violations.

Sri Lanka's president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, said his party's victory was a "mandate" for the government to continue its war against the Tigers and to defeat them in the north, reported Bloomberg. Since it successfully drove the rebels from the east last summer, the government has turned its guns on the Tigers' northern lair, an area known as the "Wanni."

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