Police said some unidentified persons blocked and fired on buses carrying voters near Anuradhapura. There were no casualties reported and police is investigating the matter. An election monitor agency reported that there were some attempts to coerce voters to vote for a particular candidate.
There were also reports of army putting up roadblocks in minority-dominated Northern Province which has been removed with police intervention. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has called on the public to peacefully vote and maintain law and order for a free and fair election. Polling has begun this morning to elect a new President with a total of 35 candidates in fray.
The main contest is between former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajpaksa and Minister Sajith Premadasa. Both candidates have campaigned mainly on the plank of national security and good governance. Gotabaya has popular support of majority Sinhala community while Sajith is banking on his support amongst minority Tamil and Muslim communities.
Around 1.6 crore people are eligible to exercise their franchise and over 12 thousand polling stations have been set up all over the country. Counting of votes will be held after polling is over and results are expected by tomorrow. A candidate needs to poll over 50 percent of valid votes to be declared winner, else the second preference votes has to be counted. This is the first time in country’s history that neither of sitting President or Prime minister are contesting the elections.