Colombo, Sri Lanka – The elections to end Sri Lankan presidential elections, which show growing religious tensions and a slowing economy, are central to voters, officials say, with the results expected to be published on Sunday.  The election ends at 5:00 pm local time (11:30 am GMT) on Saturday after a major peace election that was observed despite several incidents of limited violence, said Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapri.
"We are very pleased to say that we do not have many serious incidents of what we would call violence," Deshapri told reporters in the capital Colombo.
Previous presidential polls in an island nation in South Asia have been marred by riots and clashes between rival political groups.
The number of votes was cast by commission officials, with the final result expected by Sunday evening, he said.
E During Saturday, unidentified gunmen fired at a convoy of more than 100 buses carrying mainly Muslim townsmen near 190 Muslim constituencies. miles north of Colombo, police said.
Three buses were damaged but no casualties, police
"The police in Tantyrimail are investigating but no suspects have been arrested so far," Gunasekar said.
On Saturday night, another bus carrying some IDPs was stoned when returning to the city of Puthalam in northwestern Sri Lanka, police said. Two women, 54 and 55, were injured in the attack, they added.
Saturday's election saw Sajit Premadasa, cabinet minister and candidate for ruling United National Party (UNP), take over Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former defense minister and brother of two-time former president Mahinda .
Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka Pojayana Peramuna (SLPP) is campaigning heavily on national security after a series of coordinated suicide bombings that shook the country in April, killing 269 people.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa has stated that he will appoint his brother Mahinda as prime minister if elected.
Premadasa, whose father was killed when he was president in 1993, has focused on slowing the economy down, promising to strengthen welfare programs for the poor, especially in the housing sector.
"We need a strong leader"
Gunasekar stated that at least 26 people have been arrested nationwide
According to the Election Commission on Saturday, at least seven incidents of violence have occurred, including shootings, breakouts and attacks. At least 248 other violations of election law have also been reported, Chief Election Commission Deshapri told reporters.
According to the Independent Election Violence Monitoring Center (CMEV), at least 196 violations were reported on election day, including at least three attacks and 61 cases of intimidation.
Turnout is expected to be high with Deshapri predicting a final figure of over 80 percent. During the last presidential election in 2015, turnout was similar to 81.5 percent.
In Colombo, many voters said they were voting because of concerns about the country's economic situation.
Burdened by high external debt – much of it accumulated during the post-war recovery at Mahinda Rajapaksa – and a slowdown in economic growth of 2.7%, the island nation's domestic product (19659023] GDP ) began to stagnate.
"We are poor people, and everyone who comes as president should help people," says Sandaya Kumari, 59, a cleaner who voted for Premadasa.
Others said Rajapaksa's message from strong, centralized leadership resonated with them.
"He did a good job and proved himself, and we need a strong leader, more than anything else," says 50-year-old lawyer Jayant Abeywikrama.
The Rajapaksa's campaign focuses on his term as D secretary of the federation during his brother's term as president, particularly his leadership at the end of the bloody 26-year civil war against the Tamil rebels in 2009.
] Rights groups have long called for accountability for alleged violations of rights committed in recent days
According to a United Nations report, nearly 40,000 Tamils may have been killed by indiscriminate bombing in areas that had previously been considered as "No-fire zones" by the Sri Lankan military as the rebels retreat to civilian areas.
Tamils form approximately 15 percent of Sri Lanka's 21.8 million population and live mainly in the northern regions of the country.
"We have the right to vote, but we get nothing from it," says Poulasingham Šidarasingh, 67, a Tamil bookstore owner in Colombo.
About 10 percent of the country's Muslim population is also subjected to a series of riots and protests following the Easter Sunday attacks, allegedly by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS).
Rajapaksa launched its campaign days after the attack, promising to make national security a key issue. He is supported by a number of staunch Buddhist nationalist leaders who call for more control over Muslims.
Imran Mohammed Ali, 38, a voter in the Colombo Nugegoda region, said he would "never" vote for Rajapaksas.
"They did a good thing by ending the war, but maybe not by the means I would like," he said. "If they win, they will remain in power for 30 or 40 years."
The later years of Mahinda Rajapaksa's presidency were marked by increasing opposition to dissent, including the disappearance of activists and journalists.
"The future of Sri Lanka, how our rights and security are protected, will decide who will be elected by the people of today," says Sandia Eknalidogha, a human rights activist and wife of journalist Praget Eknalidog, who disappeared in 2010. ., two days before Mahinda Rajapaksa won re-election.
His disappearance was related to military intelligence, reports Sunday Observer.