Sri Lanka swears in president
Mahinda Rajapaksa is set to be sworn in as president of Sri Lanka for a second six-year term in office, two months after a constitutional revamp that boosted his executive powers.
He begins his new term on Friday 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.
However, hundreds of people led by the opposition People's Liberation Front party took to the streets of the capital, Colombo, on the eve of the inauguration to demand pay rises and to protest against the rising cost of living.
Rajapaksa, who turned 65 on Thursday, brushed off the concerns of countries, including the United States, that his powers pose a threat to the country’s democracy.
He insists that they are necessary to rebuild the country torn by decades of civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighters.
"When I came to power I promised an honourable peace and a new Sri Lanka. I have kept my promise and built a new country," he said after opening a $1.5bn port in the southern town of Hambantota.
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Published: Thu Nov 18 22:18:01 EST 2010