An estimated eight million Sri Lankans went to the polls on December 22 to vote on a crucial referendum to decide whether their parliament should be extended for a further six-year term, without holding a general election.
SV PAN President Junuis Jayewardene, with aides, walking towards city polling station. (2 SHOTS)
SV Polling booth attendants. (2 SHOTS)
SV Security guards organising people outside polling station.
GV At another polling station, woman casts her vote and places her finger in indelible ink.
SVs At city polling station, President Jayewardene queuing to vote. (3 SHOTS)
SV Voters' fingers marked with indelible in. (4 SHOTS)
SV President Jayewardene having his finger marked and then voting. (4 SHOTS)
SV Man casting vote.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: An estimated eight million Sri Lankans went to the polls on December 22 to vote on a crucial referendum to decide whether their parliament should be extended for a further six-year term, without holding a general election. President Junius Jayewardene was among the first to cast his vote. Accompanied by aides, he took an early-morning stroll from his home in Colombo to a nearby polling station. Here, security guards were needed to organise the large crowds into orderly queues, but at polling stations elsewhere, the pace was much slower. Many stations were almost deserted. The president was not spared the ritual of having his finger marked with indelible ink when he cast his vote; the procedure is to prevent people voting more than once. Opposition parties are united in their refusal to support the president's call for an extension of the parliament's duration. A referendum which does not support the extension would dent President Jayewardene's personal standing and lead to parliamentary elections next year.