Newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is inviting the minority communities to join him for the betterment of the country.
In his inaugural address to the nation as President, Rajapaksa said he knew that he could win the presidential election purely with Sinhala votes alone, but he wanted and asked for Tamils and the Muslims to be a part of that victory.
“The response for that was not up to the level I expected. But as the new President, I request you to join me for the betterment of the country’s future, whether you voted for me or not,” he said in his address from the historic Ruvanveliseya Temple in Anuradhapura.
The symbolism at the inauguration was hard to miss. Rajapaksa was sworn in front of a statue of Dutugemunu, the Sinhala king who defeated the Chola King Elara.
Rajapaksa said his government would also give priority to strengthening national security while maintaining friendly relations with all nations and not get caught in international power struggles, Rajapaksa said.
“The government should always set an example to society,” he said in an address to the nation televised live soon after he was sworn in following Saturday’s presidential poll which he won with a decisive majority.
“Professionalism and efficiency should be the cornerstone of government administration,” Rajapaksa said.
“Meritocracy and technocracy should be promoted at all times. Corruption will never be tolerated under my administration.”
He said he would rebuild the state administration free of bribery and corruption and respect the rule of law.
Rajapaksa said his government hopes to be friendly with all countries and not get caught in power struggles.
“We want to remain neutral in our foreign relations and stay out of any conflicts among world powers.”
Rajapaksa said he was happy to take oaths in front of a statue of King Dutugamunu.
He scored large majorities in the Sinhala South of the country, while the mainly Tamil and Muslim areas voted for his defeated rival Sajith Premadasa.
He said he was from a Buddhist family and studied at a leading Buddhist school in Colombo. With his Buddhist background, he had learned values such as discipline.
“In my time I will protect and nurture the Buddhist religion,” Rajapaksa said.
“In will protect the Sinhala heritage of thousands of years. I will give state protection for our values, ape kama and sirith virith (practices)”