Sirisena ousts Rajapaksa, sworn in as Lankan prez
Wickremesinghe is premier; minority votes did the wonder
Sri Lankan voters on Friday gave a marching order to President Mahinda Rajapaksa ending his 10-year rule that was marked by allegations of dynasty politics, corruption and authoritarianism and in his place, they chose his one-time minister Maithripala Sirisena.
Hours after the results were declared, 63-year-old Sirisena, who led a revolt and defected to the opposition camp on the eve of the elections, was sworn-in as president symbolising a smooth transition of power.
Sworn in along with him was new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who till now was the leader of opposition. Both took the oath of office at a ceremony in the Independence Square. Supreme Court Justice K Sripavan administered the oath to Sirisena.
“I will ensure I deliver the change I promised. I will strengthen Sri Lanka’s foreign relations to maintain friendly relations with all nations,” Sirisena said. “We will have a foreign policy that will mend our ties with the international community and all international organisations in order that we derive maximum benefit for our people,” he said.
Sirisena said he will not seek a second term. What was considered impossible till a few weeks ago became possible when the voters showed the door to 69-year-old Rajapaksa, who was suave but ruthless when it came to decimating the dreaded LTTE that had earned him the title of ‘King’ among the majority Sinhalese and unpopularity with the minority Tamils.
Health Minister under Rajapaksa and General Secretary of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party till he defected, Sirisena got 6,217,162 or 51.2 per cent of the votes against Rajapaksa’s 5,768,090.
“I declare that Maithripala Sirisena has been duly elected as the President of Sri Lanka,” announced Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya bringing the curtains down on the closely fought elections that was advanced by two years by Rajapaksa who had amended the constitution for seeking an unprecedented third term.
Much before the declaration, Rajapaksa, who was accused of practising dynasty politics, conceded defeat early in the morning and left the presidential house ‘Temple Trees’. After his victory, Sirisena thanked Rajapaksa for ensuring a fair poll.