New Delhi: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka, was sworn-in as the island nation’s new President on Monday, a day after he registered a thumping win in the 2019 Sri Lanka Presidential Elections. The 70-year-old stormed to power winning 52.25% or nearly seventy lakh votes, 1.3 million votes more than his nearest competitor and chief rival Sajith Premadasa who won 41.99% or 55 lakh votes.
The swearing-in ceremony took place at the Ruwanweli Seya in the ancient north-central town of Anuradhapura. Gotabaya is the eighth president of Sri Lanka, having succeeded Maithripala Sirisena in the office for a five-year term.
Before his swearing-in ceremony, he tweeted: “Sustaining the victory is more important than the journey towards it.”
Earlier, Gotabaya, the younger brother of former two-time President Mahinda Rajapaksa, claimed victory in the polls even before the official results were declared, with Premadasa conceding defeat. He will be the second President from his family after his brother, a two-time President between November 2005 and January 2015, and also a former Prime Minister.
It was during his term as the Defence Secretary that the Sri Lankan Army finally brought to end the decades-long civil war with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), whom they defeated in 2009. The army, however, was accused of committing several war crimes during this time, an allegation vehemently denied by the Sri Lankan government.
Gotabaya, whose election as President has triggered concerns among the Tamil and Muslim minorities, contested polls on the plank of nationalism, months after more than 250 people were killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in April.
He was also congratulated on his win by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose invitation to come to India was accepted by him.