clearn.png
Saturday December 5th, 2020 7:28AM

Gotabaya Rajapaksa sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new president

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s president on Monday and appealed to minority Tamils and Muslims who voted against him to give their support.

Rajapaksa, who is credited with helping end the country’s long civil war, comfortably won Saturday’s presidential election. But minorities feared his election because of allegations of human rights violations against him dating from the war.

Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya administered the oath of office to Rajapaksa at the ancient Ruwanweli Seya Buddhist temple in north-central Sri Lanka.

“We knew from the beginning that our majority Sinhala people will be the biggest factor in our victory,” Rajapaksa said in an address to the nation.

“Even though I knew I could win the presidential election with the support of the Sinhala people alone, I made a special request to Tamil and Muslim people to be partners in that victory. But their response was not to my expectation,” he said.

“But as your new president I ask you again to rally around me as true Sri Lankans for the sake of the future development of our country.”

Rajapaksa said he will maintain Sinhala and Buddhism as the country’s primary culture and provide them with state support, but will allow other groups to preserve their religious and cultural identities.

According to Sri Lankan history books, the Ruwanweli Seya temple was built by warrior King Dutu Gemunu after defeating an invading Tamil king from present-day South India.

Rajapaksa was secretary of the defense ministry in a government led by his brother, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and is credited with playing a crucial role in ending the separatist civil war by ethnic Tamil rebels.

Mahinda Rajapaksa was hailed as a warrior akin to Dutu Gemunu, and Gotabaya Rajapaksa addressed the nation standing before what is said to be the king’s statue.

In his speech, Rajapaksa also pledged to prioritize national security following suicide attacks this past Easter Sunday that killed 269 people, and to follow a neutral foreign policy.

“We want to remain neutral in our foreign relations and stay out of conflicts among the world powers,” Rajapaksa said. “We request all countries to respect our country’s unity and sovereignty in dealing with us.”

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo congratulated Rajapaksa and said the U.S. is “ready to continue our work with the new president and with all the people of Sri Lanka in supporting the country’s sovereignty through heightened good governance, expanded economic growth, the advancement of human rights and reconciliation.”

The U.S has been a leading critic of Sri Lanka’s human rights record and has sponsored resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council asking the island nation to investigate alleged wartime abuses.

Rajapaksa is accused of serious human rights violations, including overseeing abductions, torture and extrajudicial executions. He is also accused of being behind “white van squads” that whisked away critical journalists, activists and civilians suspected of links to the rebels. Some were tortured and released while others simply disappeared.

The daughter of a prominent journalist killed in 2009 has accused Rajapaksa of being behind her father’s murder.

Under the Rajapaksa brothers, Sri Lanka’s military was accused of targeting civilians in the civil war and killing rebels and civilians who surrendered in the final days of the fighting.

According to a U.N. report, about 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final months of fighting alone.

During the election campaign, Rajapaksa pledged not to honor a Human Rights Council resolution that Sri Lanka agreed to in 2015 to investigate alleged human rights abuses by both government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels during the war.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: China editor says HK police should use live ammo
The head editor of China’s nationalistic Global Times newspaper says Hong Kong police should use snipers to fire live ammunition at violent protesters
1:59AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Trubisky hurts hip, pulled in Bears' 17-7 loss to Rams
Mitch Trubisky wanted to finish out the game, but the decision was taken out of the hands of the maligned Chicago Bears quarterback because of injury
1:54AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Hong Kong police battle protesters trying to escape arrest
Police have fought off Hong Kong protesters with tear gas and batons as they tried to break through a police cordon that is trapping hundreds of them on a university campus
1:52AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Bloomberg apologizes for ‘stop-and-frisk’ police practice
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is reversing his longstanding support of the controversial “stop-and-frisk” police strategy ahead of a potential Democratic presidential run
12:50AM ( 1 hour ago )
Bloomberg apologizes for ‘stop and frisk’ police practice
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is reversing his longstanding support of the controversial “stop and frisk” police strategy ahead of a potential Democratic presidential run
10:20PM ( 3 hours ago )
2019 Takeaways: Suburb shift, high turnout and ‘Socialism!’
2019 Takeaways: Suburb shift, high turnout and ‘Socialism!’
9:14PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: United Farm Workers backs Harris for nomination
Farm workers union started by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta has endorsed Kamala Harris for the Democratic nomination for president
7:05AM ( 19 hours ago )
Former Sri Lankan defense chief wins presidential vote
Sri Lanka’s ruling party presidential candidate has conceded defeat to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, marking the return of a family revered by the Sinhalese Buddhist majority but feared by minorities
4:03AM ( 22 hours ago )
Biden warns about Trump during campaign event in Vegas
Former Vice President Joe Biden brought an alarmist warning to a diverse crowd of Democrats in early-caucus Nevada during a town hall, saying the country is at risk as long as Donald Trump is president.
1:38AM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Protesters try to leave Hong Kong campus but avoid arrest
As police close in, protesters try to leave Hong Kong university campus they occupy without getting arrested
1:04AM ( 1 hour ago )
Kim Jong Un supervises another N. Korean military drill
North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un supervised a military drill and vowed to build an “invincible army,” displaying defiance even as US and South Korea call off their own exercises to create space for diplomacy
11:53PM ( 2 hours ago )
Iran’s top leader warns ‘thugs’ as protests reach 100 cities
Iran’s supreme leader has signaled that a potential crackdown on widespread protests loomed, describing the protesters as “thugs” pushed into violence by Iran’s foreign enemies
10:44PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP World News
The Latest: China editor says HK police should use live ammo
The head editor of China’s nationalistic Global Times newspaper says Hong Kong police should use snipers to fire live ammunition at violent protesters
1:59AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Trubisky hurts hip, pulled in Bears' 17-7 loss to Rams
Mitch Trubisky wanted to finish out the game, but the decision was taken out of the hands of the maligned Chicago Bears quarterback because of injury
1:54AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Hong Kong police battle protesters trying to escape arrest
Police have fought off Hong Kong protesters with tear gas and batons as they tried to break through a police cordon that is trapping hundreds of them on a university campus
1:52AM ( 25 minutes ago )
10 shot, 4 killed at backyard football party in California
Ten people were shot and four of them were killed Sunday at a party in Fresno when suspects sneaked into a backyard filled with people
1:51AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Buttigieg touts military service, wary of overstating role
Pete Buttigieg is leaning hard on his seven-month deployment as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan as a powerful credential, but the Democratic presidential candidate is walking a narrow path between giving his service its due and overstating it
1:51AM ( 27 minutes ago )