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Voting begins in Sri Lanka
Updated: 2004-04-02 10:15

Sri Lankans began voting on Friday in an election forecast to end in a hung parliament, which could further weaken efforts to revive a peace bid with the island's separatist Tamil Tigers.

The third parliamentary vote in four years opened with tight security around the island, with military and police patrolling areas of the east where there was increased tension after a split last month in rebel ranks.

About three-quarters of the more than 12 million eligible voters were expected to cast ballots as pre-election opinion polls showed neither the ruling United National Party (UNP) nor the United People's Freedom Alliance winning a majority.

Voting opened at 7 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. (0100 to 0400 GMT). Complete results are not expected until Saturday.

The election was called nearly four years early by President Chandrika Kumaratunga after a political feud escalated between her and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Although Wickremesinghe signed a cease-fire with the Tigers two years ago, the president -- who is elected separately -- accuses him and the UNP of being too soft on the Tigers.

Peace talks to permanently end the war that has killed 64,000 broke down one year ago, but the truce has held.

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