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'Dawn of Maithri Rule' Begins with Swearing-in of the New President, Together with New Prime Minister

The swearing-in ceremony of Hon. Maithripala Sirisena as the 6th President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka who is also the new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces took place in a dignified manner at the historic Independence Square Friday (9) evening, graced by a host of distinguished gathering, including members of the clergy, former President Mrs Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe, Hon. Chamal Rajapaksa, Tri-Service Commanders, et al.

Seconds after the new President took oaths before Mr K. Sripavan, Senior Most Supreme Court Judge in accordance with the provisions in the Constitution, Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe was sworn in as the country’s new Prime Minister by HE the new President Maithripala Sirisena amidst a thundering applause.

HE the new President Maithripala Sirisena delivering a brief address to the Nation from the floors of the Independence Hall called upon everyone to refrain from post-election violence since hatred cannot be won by hatred, reciting the Buddhist stanza, ‘Nahi Verena Verani’.

President Sirisena assuring a complete transformation in society at political, economic and cultural fronts through good governance, responsible to the Parliament within a short span of time lavishly thanked all those who supported his election to the Presidency.

He also told the gathering that he would usher a new socio-cultural society rich with values and free from abuse and corruption done with absolute impunity. His government will embark on new social and economic reforms which would lead to prosperity for all, the new President added.  

He also touched on his vision for the future as well as his desire to make the country a very prosperous one free from corruption, nepotism and wastage.

The ceremony also saw the occasion was blessed with the recital of Jayamangala stanzas.

Flag waving supporters, all political leaders of the New Democratic Front, a mammoth crowd of local and foreign journalists, well-wishers and diplomats attended the state ceremony.

Here is the official profile of the new President of Sri Lanka Hon. Maithripala Sirisena;

Pallewatte Gamaralalage Maithripala Yapa Sirisena was born on 3rd September 1951 to a middle-class farming family. (He is known as Maithripala Sirisena or Maithri and is a member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka. He joined mainstream politics in 1989 and has held several ministrial portfolios since 1994. He is the longest serving General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and was selected as the Common Candidate for the Presidential Election, underlining the need to run the country free from corruption, wastage and restoration of law and order.

Maithripala Sirisena is a rare breed of a gentleman politician in today’s political landscape, a politician with an impeccable track record, untainted by either violence or corruption. Maithripala is a political leader with a genuine national appeal. The son of a farmer, he had practiced a brand of centrist, moderate and clean politics, which characterizes the best in Sri Lanka’s political culture.

In 1967 Maithripala became a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s Youth Organization and became its secretary of the Polonnaruwa electorate at the time he was completing his ordinary level (O/L) examinations at Royal Central College, Polonnaruwa. In 1970 he actively participated in the SLFP election campaign as a student.

He obtained the “Diploma in Agriculture” from School of Agriculture in Kundasale in 1973.

Maithri was jailed after the 1971 JVP Insurrection, although he was not involved in it. He became a Co-orporative Purchasing Officer in Polonnaruwa as his first employment.

He became a “Grama Niladhari”, a state official and served his fellow villagers in day today administrative matters.

Appointed as the Secretary to Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Central Committee’s Polonnaruwa electorate and he played a leading role in 1977 election, and had to undergo hardships due to prevailing post election violence.

He resigned from his job to engage in full time politics. He attended an International Youth Congress held in Cuba in the same year. He became the Secretary of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Polonnaruwa District.

He was once again jailed for taking part in protest campaigns against stripping Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranayake’s civic rights.

He was appointed as the SLFP – Polonnaruwa District Organizer to lead the SLFP in district level.

He received a Diploma in Political Science, from the Maxim Gorky Academy in Russia.

Maithri became the Treasurer of “All Island SLFP Youth Organization” which made him eligible to become a Central Committee Member of SLFP (SLFP Politburo), which is the highest level decision making body of the party.

In 1989, Maithri for the first time contested for the general elections from the Polonnaruwa District and became a member of the parliament (MP) on 15th February 1989. He contested under the well-known SLFP symbol “HAND” and this was the last time this symbol was used in an election in Sri Lanka.

In the general elections of 1994, he obtained the highest number of preferential votes from Polonnaruwa District. After this, he was made the Deputy Minister for Irrigation.

He was offered the Cabinet Ministerial portfolio of Mahaweli Development and Parliamentary Affairs and was elected as the Assistant Secretary of the SLFP.

Maithri was elected as the Vice Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). He was elected to the 12th Parliament and in July 2001 Minister Maithripala Sirisena was appointed to the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and he is still serving in this position to date as the longest serving secretary of the history of Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

In February 2004 Maithripala Sirisena signed the historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) with Mr. Tilvin Silva, the secretary of JVP, which lead to the birth of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), the current coalition government.

He was elected to the 13th Parliament of Sri Lanka and was appointed as the Cabinet Minister of Mahaweli, River Basin & Rajarata Development. He was also appointed as the Leader of the House of Parliament.

In November 2005, Maithripala Sirisena was given two portfolios in the government of Sri Lanka: The Cabinet Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Mahaweli Development and the Minister of Environment & Natural Resources

Mr Maithripala Sirisena once again signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and United National Party (UNP) with then chairman of UNP Mr. Malik Samarawickrama. This was an agreement to co-operate with the government to end the civil war.

He then served as the Cabinet Minister for Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services Development after he was appointed in 2007.

During this period he was able to introduce the agricultural cultivation drive of the ministry “Api Wawamu – Rata Nagamu” program which led to an agricultural boom throughout Sri Lanka including accelerated field crop production to sustain the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka.

On 25th January 2007, The Minister initiated the Moragahakanda - Kalu Ganga project under the Mahaveli Master Plan, which was a 90 billion Sri Lankan Rupee project. In addition to providing water for irrigation and drinking purposes in North-Central, Northern and Eastern Provinces, Moragahakanda project also generates 25 MW of power, fulfilling a long-term need for domestic and industrial electricity demands.

In March 2007, the Minister escaped from an LTTE terrorist suicide-bombing attempt in Welikanda as well as later in Werahera, Boralesgamuwa. With the information provided by the security information divisions, 3 LTTE cadres were on hunt, but they had swallowed cyanide capsules hung on their neck and killed themselves when captured.

Once again on 09th October 2008 the Minister was targeted by the world’s most ruthless LTTE terrorist group. The attack was carried out when he was returning from the “Wap Magul Ceremony” held in Bandaragama. This time the Minister miraculously escaped and saved his life to serve the country. Unfortunately 4 people died and 15 were injured in this incident.

At the height of the war in Sri Lanka, Mr Maithripala performed as the Acting Defence Minister of Sri Lanka for five times in 2005. He was the acting Defence Minister at the final days of the war in Sri Lanka in the absence of the Defence Minister (The President).

Minister Maithripala was elected back to the parliament in 2010 and was appointed as the Cabinet Minister of Health in the UPFA government.

During the period 2010-2014 the Minister had taken initiative to introduce back the well-known Senaka Bibile “Drug Policy Act” and presented it to the Cabinet, fulfilling the need of a National Drug Policy Framework for Sri Lanka. The act is now before the Cabinet for approval.

He fought with the multinational tobacco companies, both in and out of the Courts with threats to introduce the “Pictorial Warnings” on the tobacco / cigarette packs to educate the general public to adverse effects of the smoking. During this two and half year of legal battle, he had to sit and wait hours on watching the court proceedings and finally won the case. By January 2015 each and every cigarette pack will carry pictorial warnings on 60% of its serface.

He received World Health Organization’s ‘World No Tobacco Day Award 2013’ for his determined action taken to stop tobacco smoking in the country. This is the first time a Sri Lankan was awarded this honour.

He also received the ‘2013 Harvard Ministerial Leadership in Health Award’ from Harvard School of Public Health & Kennedy School of Government, United States of America in recognition of his commitment to innovative leadership in his tenure as Minister of Health, Sri Lanka. This is also the first time a Sri Lankan was awarded this honour.

He offered leadership to G15 Group of Countries at 2013 World Health Assembly in Geneva and presented the G15 Statement on health related issues to the Assembly. He was selected as the one of the four Vice-Presidents in WHO World Health Assembly 2014.

A historical decision was taken by the initiative as the Health Minister by Mr. Maithripala, having obtained the approval to purchase locally manufactured medicines directly to the Ministry of Health empowering the local medicine manufactures.

Mr Maithripala, as the Health Minister initiated Sri Lanka’s first government to government medicine procurement mechanism by signing an agreement with the government of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to create an atmosphere to get quality medicine at a better price to help the people in Sri Lanka who could not afford.

He became the President of Sri Lanka with a popular vote on 8 January 2015 defeating his predecessor in the country’s 7th presidential election.