Sri Lanka

Rajapakse promises Sri Lanka prosperity as sworn in for second term

Reuters/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds

Mahinda Rajapakse promised to turn Sri Lanka into the economic "wonder" of Asia as he was sworn in Friday for a second six-year term as president Friday.


At an inauguration ceremony including a march-past by thousands of troops and traditional drummers, Rajapakse promised that economic success would follow military victory in the long war against Tamil Tiger rebels which ended last year.

"When I took over five years ago the country was heading for break-up, but today it is a unified nation where terrorism has been defeated," Rajapakse said in a nationally teevised address. "I have full confidence that the young people of this country will make Sri Lanka the wonder of Asia.”

The president, who turned 65 on Thursday, took the oath of office on an open-air stage overlooking the Indian Ocean in the capital Colombo under tight security.

Sri Lanka's main opposition parties, the United National Party (UNP) and the People’s Liberation Front (JVP), boycotted the celebrations saying that the week of festivities was a waste of public funds.

In his address, he thanked those countries who had helped during the offensive against the Tamil Tigers that ended decades of ethnic conflict.

China and Pakistan provided weapons and Iran and Libya offered credit, at a time when Sri Lanka's reserves had hit rock bottom and there was widespread criticism of alleged atrocities.

Rajapakse has unveiled a series of ambitious infrastructure projects, including a Chinese-funded, 1.5-billion-dollar port in the southern town of Hambantota.

He has rejected allegations that the army may have been responsible for substantial civilian deaths during its final offensive against the Tamil Tigers, and dismissed calls for an international inquiry.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning