Colombo, Jan 10: Maithripala Sirisena was sworn in as Sri Lanka's seventh president on Friday after he defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa, the incumbent who advanced the presidential election by two years seeking an unprecedented third term.
Sirisena, 63, a former ally of Rajapaksa, vowed to curb centralisation of presidential power and caused an upset by capitalising on the latter's growing popularity among Sri Lanka's ethnic and religious minorities. Sirisena, the common candidate of the New Democratic Front, received 51.28 per cent votes as against Rajapaksa's 47.58 per cent.
Sirisena, who took the oath of office with senior Supreme Court Justice Kanagasabapathy Sripavan, bypassing the country's chief justice installed by his predecessor, said his government would implement the 100-day programme in their election manifesto.
He promised to change thc country's constitution to curtail the power of the president and see the country return to a parliamentary system led by a prime minister. He also promised that he would not participate in the presidential race again.
Sirisena thanked Rajapaksa for conceding defeat but slammed the state media for its coverage that spoke negatively about him. He said he had the maturity to bear the assault on his character because of his long experience in politics.
Sirisena also appealed to his supporters to remain calm in the wake of his victory and not to hurt anybody's feelings.
Opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe was sworn in as the prime minister of the country.