Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in President for his second term at a grand ceremony here on Friday.

Speaking to a large gathering outside the Presidential Secretariat, Mr. Rajapaksa promised to transform the island nation into an economic wonder of Asia, replicating the success of his government in militarily defeating the LTTE.

“I recall how, five years ago on November 19, 2005, I took over this country on this premises. On that 19th of November when I took over this country it was divided and the nation was facing a threat to its existence. Yet, we toiled day and night with patience and commitment, facing all hostile forces, unshaken in the midst of rising storms.”

Mr. Rajapaksa, who turned 65 on Thursday, was re-elected in the January presidential election with a huge margin over the opposition candidate and former Army Chief, Sarath Fonseka.

The election was called by Mr. Rajapaksa two years ahead of the end of his first term.

On a reference from the government, the Supreme Court had ruled that his second term would commence in November, almost 10 months after the election.

Thanks to a recent constitutional amendment which lifted the two-term limit on holding the office of President, Mr. Rajapaksa is eligible to run for office again.

Unlike the first term, which was dominated by the war with the LTTE, the focus during his second term is expected to be on revival of economy and working towards consensus for a political solution to the ethnic conflict.

Mr. Rajapaksa thanked those countries which had helped Sri Lanka in the war against the Tigers.

He told the gathering, “We worked with many nations in agreement and friendship for national security. We now step into the development era. We extend our hand of friendship to those who assist us in this endeavour.”

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