President Rajapaksa inaugurates Sri Lanka parliament

President Rajapaksa inaugurates Sri Lanka parliament

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrives to deliver his speech at parliament

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday emphasised on stronger ties with all countries and outlined his government's vision as he inaugurated the fourth session of parliament, a month after he prorogued the House following his victory in the presidential elections.

Parliament was to meet on December 3, but President Rajapaksa prorogued it for one month and fixed January 3 for the commencement of the next session.

He attended parliament for the first time as he had never been a member of parliament. The president chose to be attired in a European suit, a deviation from all five of his male predecessors who always wore the traditional national dress.

In his ceremonial address, the president recalled his family’s long association with the assembly and explained that although he was not wearing the family trademark maroon coloured shawl with the national dress which claimed to represent the peasants from the deep southern region of Giruwapattuwa, he still had their interests as a priority of his administration.

The president outlined his government’s vision for efficiency, eradication of corruption and crime with accelerated infrastructure development to revive the local economy.

He told the assembly that electoral and constitutional reform would be needed to make Sri Lanka a progressive state. “The executive presidency must be strengthened to leave no room for extremist politics”, he said.

He said that he wants stronger relations with all countries as the foreign policy of his government. “We will not fall on our knees before any foreign nation," he said.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 70, a former military officer, was sworn in as Sri Lanka's seventh President on November 18 after he defeated the ruling party candidate Sajith Premadasa by more than 13 lakh votes, marking the return of the powerful Rajapaksa dynasty.

He named his elder brother and former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister after Ranil Wickremesinghe of the United National Party resigned from the post following the election debacle.

The 74-year-old leader will function as the prime minister of the caretaker cabinet until the general election in 2020.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa is widely expected to dissolve the current assembly by early March to set dates for a fresh parliamentary election end of April or early May.

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