news Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | January 10, 2015 | 08.20 am IST

Colombo, Jan 9 : Firecrackers and huge crowds greeted the oath-taking of Sri Lanka's new President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe here Friday with the former pledging to remain in the presidency for just one term.

Sirisena won a tightly contested race against former president Mahinda Rajapaksa who admitted defeat in the early hours of Friday when vote tallies gave Sirisena an unassailable lead of over 400,000 votes.

Justice K. Sripavan, the most senior judge of the Supreme Court, delivered the oath to Sirisena at Independence Square where Sri Lankans gathered in the thousands to glimpse their new leader, Xinhua news agency reported.

Sirisena presented a flower basket before a Buddha statute before taking oath. He was flanked by party supporters including former president Chandrika Kumaratunga.

The new president then swore-in opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new prime minister.

"Today all of us, I believe, are very happy as Sri Lankans. I thank those voters as well as all Sri Lankans," he said addressing the nation after taking the oath.

"The public have appointed me to this position with great trust. As such I will not run for a second term. You chose to change the diseased political environment of this country and I will honour this mandate and carry out my responsibilities with deep integrity," he said at the inauguration.

The new president also reiterated his request for a peaceful transition of power.

A fresh cabinet is expected to be appointed over the weekend.

Sirisena

Rajapaksa called for early elections last November with two years to go before the end of his second term, seeking an unprecedented third six-year term in power despite growing criticism of corruption and family rule.

Sirisena was Rajapaksa's health minister before crossing over to become the candidate of the opposition coalition, which gathered together the Tamil and Muslim minorities as well.

Sirisena has a difficult time ahead of him, which includes carrying out his core promise of rolling back the powers of the executive presidency within 100 days. He has also pledged constitutional changes that will see the appointment of a parliamentary style of governance under a prime minister.

With IANS

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