Rajapaksa: ‘I will ensure Sri Lanka remains neutral in global arena’

Sri Lanka’s President-elect Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrives to take oath of office during his swearing-in ceremony at the Ruwanwelisaya temple in Anuradhapura. (AFP)
Updated 19 November 2019

Rajapaksa: ‘I will ensure Sri Lanka remains neutral in global arena’

  • Thanking the citizens who voted for his victory, the president also welcomed all communities in the country to join him to work for  the prosperity of the nation

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka will remain neutral in the global arena and will not intervene in any conflicts, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the seventh executive president of Sri Lanka, said in his maiden speech on Monday.
He was addressing the nation after being sworn in by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya in the sacred city of Anuradhapura.
Secretary to the President Udaya R. Seneviratne read out the proclamation declaring Rajapaksa as the new president at a ceremony which was attended by members of all faiths at the foot of the Ruwanweli Seya in Anuradhapura.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, members of the tri-forces, diplomats from Palestine, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US including, Western Province Governor A. J. M. Muzammil, were also present on this occasion.
Rajapaksa, who represents the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna achieved a thumping majority of 1.3 million votes against his nearest competitor, Sajith Premadasa, at the presidential polls on Saturday.
Promising to abide by the constitution of the country and not to support or encourage the creation of another state in or outside Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa said that his country will remain neutral in its foreign relations and stay out of any conflicts among the world powers.
“We will have our fullest commitment to achieve the sustainable development goals of the UN,” the new president said, urging other nations to respect the sovereignty of Sri Lanka.
Thanking the citizens who voted for his victory, the president also welcomed all communities in the country to join him to work for  the prosperity of the nation.
He also appreciated the gesture of all citizens who displayed their sense of civic responsibility by exercising their franchise at the polls.
He also pledged to lead the country via the Buddhist philosophy, which advocates principles of equality and justice.
While providing state sponsorship to safeguard the traditional heritage of the nation, he said he will take measures to protect the rights of the civilians to live in peace and harmony.
Stressing that he would give utmost priority to national security, the new president said that a more effective mechanism will be worked out to safeguard the homeland.
“The time has come to work as one force to build the nation and a people-centered government is imperative to achieve such a goal,” he said.
“The government should always set an example to society. Professionalism and efficiency should be the cornerstone of the government administration. Meritocracy and technocracy should be promoted at all times, corruption will be never tolerated under my administration.” Rajapaksa said he has plans to form a new government soon to forward his policies.
He said it is his responsibility to serve every community in his country: “No challenge is impossible, if we work together for a united Sri Lanka.”
Muzammil told Arab News that the people have made the right choice in electing Rajapaksa, recognizing his proven record of service as defense secretary.
The EU election observation mission has concluded that the election was largely free of violence and technically well-managed, but that unregulated campaign spending, abuse of state resources and media bias affected the level playing field. The US Embassy in Colombo commended the country on having a peaceful election.
It stated that Sri Lanka has continued to show the strength and resilience of its republic with a free, fair and transparent presidential election befitting Asia’s oldest democracy.
The statement further read that they look forward to working with Rajapaksa in supporting Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and in fostering an Indo-Pacific region where all countries can prosper.


Tens of thousands evacuated in Italy as WWII bomb defused

Updated 16 min 16 sec ago

Tens of thousands evacuated in Italy as WWII bomb defused

  • The bomb was found during work on a cinema
  • Residents within a 1.5-km radius were evacuated

ROME: Around 54,000 people were evacuated from the southern Italian city of Brindisi on Sunday as experts worked to defuse a World War II bomb, in the largest operation of its kind in the country, media said.
The British bomb, one-meter long and weighing 200 kilograms, was found on November 2 during work on a cinema.
The device was damaged by the workers’ equipment, making the operation trickier.
All residents within a 1.5-kilometer radius were evacuated, and gas supplies were cut in homes within 500 meters of the site.
Some air traffic and rail services were also suspended.
More than 1,000 members of the security forces and around 250 volunteers took part in the evacuation operation.
The AGI news agency said the evacuation of more than half Brindisi’s population of some 87,000 began on Saturday with the transfer of 217 prisoners to other detention facilities.