By midday polling in Sri Lanka's three provincial council elections were proceeding calmly for the most part despite 84 complaints on election violations, an official said on Saturday.
Of the 84 complaints 26 were from the crucial Northern Province where polls are being held for the first time in over 25 years.
The elections are being intensely fought in the Northern Province with the main Tamil Party, the Tamil National Alliance ( TNA) pushing for a chance to move ahead with power devolution since the end of a brutal three-decade war in 2009.
People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) who has over 1000 monitors in the north has recorded a couple of serious violations during the first half of voting.
"The highest amounts of complaints are on illegal voter influence where a dozen reports have been made, nine of them are quite serious. About an hour ago the house of a polling agent was set on fire but no one has been hurt," PAFFREL Coordinator Sadun Gunewardana told Xinhua.
He added that the second serious complaint was that military personnel in civil clothes but carrying weapons were seen in groups by monitors in the Mullaitivu area of the Northern District.
"Even before voting began in the morning, a group of army officers numbering around 40 had visited a village in Jaffna and intimidated the people and told them not to vote," he added.
However, despite the high number of incidents recorded so far, Gunewardana was keen to reiterate that by and large polling was taking place peacefully.
Voter turnout in the other two provinces, namely the north western and central, was
low at the 35 percent mark but the north was marginally higher with about 40 percent of the 700 000 voters using their franchise early.
Voting will end at 5 p.m. local time and the first counting will begin soon after with results expected to be finalized by Sunday morning.