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Maithripala Sirisena New President of Sri Lanka
Jan 11, 2015

Maithripala Sirisena was sworn in as the sixth president of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's Supreme Court Judge K. Sri Pawan administered the oath of office to Sirisena at the Independence Square in Colombo. UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe was sworn in as prime minister.

Mahinda Rajapaksa lost his bid for a third term. He was defeated by united opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena. Mahinda Rajapaksa won in the last election in 2010, surfing a wave of popularity months after the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels. But the results of this election showed Rajapaksa remained popular among Sinhala Buddhists, who account for around 70 percent of the country's 21 million people, but Sirisena took his lead from the ethnic Tamil-dominated former war zone in the north and Muslims-dominated areas.

Some Facts about Mathripala Sirisena

  • Maithripala Sirisena was a low-profile minister when opposition chose him to spearhead a campaign to topple Mahinda Rajapaksa.

  • Sirisena entered parliament in 1989 after settling in the eastern district of Polonnaruwa, where he had worked as a local government official. At the time his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was struggling to find candidates willing to risk attacks by Marxist Sinhalese militants who wanted an elections boycott.

  • Sirisena was also a soft target for the Tamil Tiger rebels during the height of fighting and separatists had tried to assassinate him at least five occasions.

  • Sirisena was jailed for nearly two years after being arrested on suspicion of leading a revolt against the government in 1971 when he was just 20.

  • Sirisena has pledged to abolish the executive presidency that gave Rajapaksa unprecedented power and hold a fresh parliamentary election within 100 days.

  • Sirisena has also promised a crackdown on corruption, which would include investigations into big infrastructure projects such as a $1.5 billion deal with China Communications Construction Co Ltd to build a port city.

  • Sirisena's vision for the country ties in closely with the free-market, investor-friendly policies of the opposition UNP which provided him with the political base to challenge Rajapaksa.


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