Published: Tue, November 19, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Blessed by Buddhist monks, Sri Lanka's new president prioritises security

Blessed by Buddhist monks, Sri Lanka's new president prioritises security

The stunning victory of Gotabaya Rajapaksa polling over 50 per cent of the votes, who was Defence Secretary during his elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa's earlier tenure that ended the protracted civil war with the LTTE in 2009 and that involved substantial loss of innocent human lives, has "shocked and disappointed" Tamils worldwide including the Sri Lankan Tamils, Stalin said in a statement here.

"We request all countries to respect our country's unity and sovereignty in dealing with us".

Sri Lanka's new president and scourge of the Tamil Tigers Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday urged minorities unnerved by his election victory to work with him, as he was sworn in at a ceremony steeped in symbolism for his core supporters.

Saturday's election saw the country's Tamils, who account for about 15 percent of the population, vote overwhelmingly against Rajapaksa.

"I was able to address the nation as the President in front of the statue of one of the greatest kings of Sri Lankan kingdom Dutugemunu because of the historical mandate given by the people", said Rajapaksa.

"We will maintain friendly and cordial relationship with all the nations and we don't want to be caught between power struggles of global politics among different nations", Rajapaksa said after he took oath at the historic Sinahala Buddhist city of Anuradhapura.

Rajapaksa secured 52.25 per cent votes (6,924,255), while Premadasa bagged 41.99 per cent (5,564,239) of the total votes polled.

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Sri Lanka was rocked by the deadly Islamic State-inspired suicide bomb attacks on Easter that killed 269 people.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa commands passionate support among many in the majority Buddhist Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. "I promise to discharge my duties in a fair manner", he said.

The overall voter turnout in the election was around 83.73 percent, Sri Lanka's Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said. "I look forward to working closely with you for deepening the close and fraternal ties between our two countries and citizens, and for peace, prosperity as well as security in our region".

It is good that in his first comments after defeating Sajith Premadasa, a housing minister in the current government, Rajapaksa struck a conciliatory note, suggesting that he would be leader of all Sri Lankans, regardless of their ethnic and religious identities.

"I am conscious that I am also the president of those who used the vote against me", he said, as he was formally declared the hands-down victor with 52.25 per cent of the vote.

Mr Rajapaksa said he planned to "restore relations" with Sri Lanka's top lender, China, if he wins the election.

But the news will be greeted with quiet dismay by many people in the minority communities that a majority vote is not for Mr Rajapaksa but his rival, Sajith Premadasa.

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