Presidential Election could mark a new era for Sri Lanka
The newly-elected President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena (l) and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (r) taking the oath of office in Colombo's Independence Square on 9th January 2015.
By Srimal Fernando, Global Editor, The Diplomatic Society
The presidential election of 2015 was a democratic milestone and marks a new dawn for the Indian Ocean Island nation for choosing Maithripala Sirisena as the new president, following a victory in the tightest ever presidential race in post-Independence history of Sri Lanka.
In the January 8th presidential elections more than 15 million Sri Lankans out of the 21 million population who was eligible to vote, turned out to vote. The election saw a high voter turnout with more than 70 percent of voters peacefully submitting their ballots. Maithripala Sirisena, the leader of the opposition coalition, won 51.28 percent of the vote, with 47.58 percent (Sri Lanka Department of Elections, 2015 ) going to Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Maithripala Sirisena, the common candidate fielded by the New Democratic Front(NDF), a grouping of almost all opposition parties such as United National Party (UNP) lead by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka of the Democratic Party (DP), Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) , the Tamil National Alliance (TNA ) and Former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga inflicted a shock defeat on former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The newly-elected President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena and his new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe both took the oath of office in Colombo's Independence Square on 9th January 2015. This is Ranil Wickramesinghe’s third stint as Prime Minister, having held the post earlier in 1993-94 and 2001-04.
After being sworn in President Sirisena said, “We will have a foreign policy that will mend our ties with the international community and all international organisations in order that we derive maximum benefit for our people. We will work with friendship and brotherhood and cooperation with all states."
On January 12, 2015, Sri Lanka's new President Maithripala Sirisena unveiled his 27-member cabinet that included members from a cross-section of parties. Among the new cabinet members Mangala Samaraweera has been appointed as the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka.
Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka pays a Courtesy call on Hon. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India on 19th January 2015 at the Official residence of the Prime Minister in New Delhi.
Hon. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of India, warmly welcomes Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka on 18th January 2015 at Nehru Bhawan in New Delhi
The Newly appointed External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka, Mangala Samaraweera, was in New Delhi on January 18, for his first foreign tour after assuming office. The Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs Mangala Samaraweera paid a courtesy call on Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at the Official residence of the Prime Minister. Prime Minister Modi congratulated President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe for the impressive victory, which was a vote for unity and change in Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Modi expressed hope that President Sirisena’s victory will advance peace, reconciliation and development in Sri Lanka, and peace and progress in the region. During the visit to India the Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera met his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj.
The people of Sri Lanka hope to see progress in the next presidential term and President Maithripala Sirisena’s victory marks a new era for Sri Lankan politics.