Rajapakse swears in as new President of Sri Lanka
[TamilNet, Saturday, 19 November 2005, 12:51 GMT]
President Mahinda Rajapakse was sworn in as the fifth executive President of Sri Lanka before the Chief Justice Sarath N Silva at the Presidential Secretariat at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Mahinda Rajapakse, who hails from the southern district of Hambantota, in his first symbolic speech said his priority was to begin talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and strengthen the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA).
The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa with the military commanders (L-R) Sri Lanka's Cheif of Defence Staff (CDS) Admiral Daya Sandagiri, Commander of the SL Army Lieutenant General S.H Shantha Kottegoda, Commander of the SL Navy, Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force Air Marshal G D Perera and Inspector General of Sri Lankan Police Chandra Fernando
Mahinda Rajapakse delivering his first speech as the President of Sri Lanka.
Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse (right) ceremonially sworn in by Sri Lanka's Chief Justice Sarath N Silva (left)
A UPFA supporter waving the Lion flag
Rajapakse who was aligned with the Sinhala extreme nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Buddhist monks party Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) said he aimed to create a new Sri Lanka without war, poverty and partiality in his maiden speech.
The new president, faced with many challenges within his party and the forces he has aligned with, said his aim was to create a new Sri Lanka where all citizens could live without racial, religious and regional differences.
SLFP sources admitted controversy surrounding the vacant position of Prime Minister and said Mr Rajapakse will announe the new Prime Minister soon.
Mr. Rajapakse and Mr. Anura Bandaranaike, the brother of the former president of Sri Lanka, Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunge, had previously agreed that Mr. Bandaranaike would be sworn in as the new Prime Minister. News reports from Colombo said Mr Anura Bandaranaike will not get the Prime Minister's post.
"My priority is to begin talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to bring an end to the ethnic crisis and to take the country towards economic prosperity, " Rajapakse said.
He added that he was prepared to make changes to the CFA if necessary.
Religious dignitaries, several key politicians, service chiefs, Parliamentarians, members of the diplomatic community , heads of various government institutions were present at the auditorium of the Presidential Secretariat.
The wife and three sons of the new President Rajapakse along with their family members were also present at the swearing in ceremony. New President's speech was translated and given simultaneously in Tamil.
Sri Lanka armed forces gava a twenty one gun salute and a guard of honour to the new Sri Lanka President at the end of the ceremony.