Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapake has a fresh mandate to continue peace talks with Tamil Tiger rebels after his ruling coalition's overwhelming victory in local elections, state-run media said.
Rajapakse's United Peoples' Freedom Alliance won majorities in 222 out of 264 local councils where results were declared, the Government Information Department said yesterday. The main opposition United National Party -- which previously controlled most councils -- won 32 seats, and minor parties won the other 10 seats.
Rajapakse says he wants to go ahead with the talks and come to a settlement. Others oppose concessions to the rebels.
"No doubt, this augers well for the future and the peace process," the state-run Daily News said in an editorial yesterday.
"Sri Lankans have clearly endorsed his policies, specially his handling of the peace process," said Jehan Perera of the National Peace Council, an independent think tank.
Controlling the councils will provide Rajapakse with a power base for future elections.
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