Sri Lankan president to be sworn in for second term; opponents boycott
Colombo, Sri Lanka (CNN) — Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa is slated to be sworn in Thursday for a second six-year term at a nationally televised ceremony outside Colombo’s presidential secretariat overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Jigme Thinley, who heads the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC), will be the guest of honor. Most other member countries of the regional grouping are sending special envoys for the event, an External Affairs Ministry official said.
The main opposition parties have declared they will boycott the ceremony.
“The extravaganza is an utter waste of public funds,” Karu Jayasuriya, deputy leader of Sri Lanka’s largest opposition United National Party, told CNN. The party’s leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, left Colombo on a private visit to India.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, or the Marxist People’s Liberation Front, said its leaders, too, would boycott the event, which would “not serve the people.”
However, Wimal Weerawansa, a cabinet minister who served in a committee that arranged the events nationwide, told CNN that “the celebrations are a fitting tribute to a leader who defeated terrorism in Sri Lanka.” He said terrorist violence had plagued the country for more than 25 years and Rajapaksa had “won the world’s acclaim for it.”
At the presidential polls in January 26, this year, Rajapaksa defeated his former Army commander, Gen. Sarath Fonseka, who led troops to defeat the Tamil Tiger rebels in May last year. Since then, a court martial has stripped Fonseka of his titles, decorations and deprived him of his pension for “dabbling in politics.”
Another court martial unseated him from his position in parliament and sentenced him to 30 months in prison. Held in Colombo’s high-security Welikade Prison, Fonseka faces a string of charges in different civil courts.
Chief Justice Asoka de Silva is to administer the oath of office to Rajapaksa, who turns 65 on Thursday. After a military parade, he will spell out his government’s policies for post-war development in Sri Lanka in an address to the nation.
On Monday, the island republic kicked off a week of festivities with tree-planting ceremonies, with illuminated cutouts of Rajapaksa placed in key towns and with religious activities at places of worship. His address will be telecast live in all schools, according to Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena.
In April, hard on the heels of Rajapaksa’s victory, his United People’s Freedom Alliance swept the parliamentary polls.
His government obtained the two-thirds majority needed to amend Sri Lanka’s constitution. That means he now has the power to appoint judges, the head of police, elections and other top-level appointments that had been constitutionally tasked to independent commissions.
The second term in office is a big occasion for a President who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces that defeated the LTTE. He is the chief architect of this liberation of the country. We are now embarked on a great voyage of economic development as one nation. It is fitting that we mark the occasion of the President’s inauguration for second term in office in a big way as we are proud of him as a great leader and statesman. He is a model for the whole world. I think the country should be given a holiday on this fitting occasion to celebrate the President’s inauguration and watch the ceremonies on TV.
As for the donkey who is visiting India for the umpteenth time, to stir-up trouble, as he cannot bear to see he is reduced to a nonentity, let him stay out permanently. Let him take with him other UNP buffoons to join the so-called Transnational Government of Diaspora Tamil Eelam. Perhaps Rudra will honour them with ministries in his government.
Ape Janadipathitumata siyalu Deviyange Pihita ha arakschawa lebewa, Terunuwan saranai , Suba Upandinyak wewa, Niduk nirogi wewa.
I join Rani and all the righteous people the world over to wish His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa a very Happy Birthday today and God’s blessings and a long life!
what a great time to srilanka,behalf of entire tamils i like to wish all the best and thanks to the god having given such a great person to srilanka,God bless mr.president.we would like to have you another 30years.