Rajapakse sworn in for second term
Colombo, November 19, 2010
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse was sworn in on Friday for a second six-year term at a colourful open air ceremony held at the sea front, by the chief justice Ashoka D Silva.
Rajapakse, who turned 65 on Thursday, began his new term in a strong position with his personal popularity running high, family members in key government positions, the opposition divided and his only serious political rival in prison.
Rajapaksa had opted for early elections in January 2010 - two years before his term was due to end - and received 57.81 percent of the votes. He then delayed being sworn in for his second term by nine months, enabling him to gain the maximum period in power.
The Sri Lankan leader who led the country's triumph over 30 year-old-insurgency was re-elected President by an overwhelming majority in the January 26 elections.
He called the election two years early to cash in a soaring ratings in the wake of last year's military victory over the Tamil Tiger.
In September, Rajapaksa government passed an amendment to the constitution to eliminate term limits for the presidency.
A tri-service march past by thousands of troops marked the ceremony which was telecast live and the Lankan capital wore a festive look for the occasion for which a public holiday had been declared.
However, hundreds of people led by the opposition People's Liberation Front party took to the streets of Colombo, on the eve of the inauguration to demand pay rises and to protest against the rising cost of living.