22 Sep 2013

Sri Lanka's Tamil party wins key vote in north

8:17 pm on 22 September 2013

Sri Lanka's main Tamil party has won the first elections for a semi-autonomous council in the island's north after decades of ethnic war, official results show.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) won 30 seats in the 38-member council following Saturday's Northern Provincial Council elections.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's coalition won seven of the other seats.

The vote took place four years after the army defeated Tamil Tiger rebels.

The TNA will now form the first functioning provincial government in the northern Tamil heartland.

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress won one seat.

The BBC reports that the result is a sign that the mainly Tamil population of the north is looking for a high degree of self-government - but there will now have to be intense bargaining with the central government on what that will entail.

The Tamil-majority Northern Province, which was first promised such a body decades ago, is the only region that has never had its own council.