Newly-sworn-in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday, in his first address to the nation, outlined his policies, which centred on efficiency to drive economic growth, a non-aligned foreign policy, priority for national security and minority inclusivity to build a prosperous Sri Lanka.
Speaking at the historic Ruwanwelisaya under the shadow of King Dutugamunu’s statue, Rajapaksa yesterday held a brief swearing-in ceremony where he stressed the need for professionalism and efficiency.
“The Government should always set an example to society. Professionalism and efficiency should be the cornerstones of Government administration,” he said, pointing out that meritocracy and technocracy would be promoted. “I promise you that I will re-establish a professional, law-abiding and efficient public service which is free of corruption,” he added, pledging not to leave any room for corruption in his administration. Addressing the gathering, he reiterated the importance of national security.
“I consider national security to be our primary responsibility,” he stated, noting that his administration would rebuild and strengthen the nation’s security apparatus.
Rajapaksa revealed that he expected to form a new Government in the coming days.
“I will establish a new Government which can enact my manifesto and vision based on the public mandate we have received,” he said.
Rajapaksa also said he would follow a non-aligned foreign policy and requested foreign powers to respect the unitary status and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.
“We intend to be friendly with each and every country. We do not wish to be caught in geopolitical power plays between global powers,” he explained.
The President stated that he intended to completely implement his election manifesto during his term. “The mandate I received is to implement the manifesto we proposed to you,” he asserted, elaborating that it would ensure that the country’s unitary status, sovereignty and security were preserved.
Acknowledging the Sinhalese vote base which primarily spurred his victory, Rajapaksa claimed that the blessings of the Buddhist Sangha enabled him to win the poll. Rajapaksa expressed disappointment at the Tamil and Muslim vote, claiming that he invited them to be part of the victory but the outcome was not what he anticipated. He stressed that as President, he represented all Sri Lankans and pledged to create an inclusive country where minorities could practice their faith and culture with dignity. He called on all Sri Lankans to rally together to build a better country.
“We will always protect the rights of those communities who have coexisted peacefully with our culture, to exercise their religious and cultural freedoms,” he stressed, pointing out that his administration was dedicated to protecting Buddhism and Sri Lankan culture.
“Now we are tasked with uniting as a Sri Lankan community and building our motherland,” he added.
Rajapaksa acknowledged the importance of preserving the environment for future generations and pledged to work towards it while aiming to fulfill the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015.
The President stressed that as a Head of State, he would not hesitate to take necessary action for the benefit of the country.
“As President, it is my responsibility to serve all Sri Lankans. Therefore, I will protect the rights of all those who voted for me and those who didn’t. I am the Executive President of this country and I will not hesitate to use my Executive powers for the benefit of Sri Lanka.”