Sept. 21 - Voting underway in Sri Lanka's former rebel stronghold for the first time in 25 years. Rough cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Voters in northern Sri Lanka began voting on Saturday (September 21) in a provincial election that threatens to stir up old animosity between the government and Tamils four years after the military crushed separatist Tamil rebels and ended a 26-year war. The ballot is the first in a quarter of a century in the former rebel stronghold but most of the voters are Tamils, many of whom are bitter about what they see as the virtual occupation of their region by the army whom they accuse of rights abuses in the final, bloody stages of the war. They are expected to vote overwhelmingly for the Tamil National Alliance, the former political proxy of the defeated rebels, in the election for 38 provincial councillors. Defeat for the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa would be largely symbolic but victory for the main Tamil party could reignite calls for autonomy.