Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister, Junius Jayawardene, and his cabinet ministers were officially sworn into office in Colombo on Saturday (23 July) as efforts were made to bring post-election violence under control.
Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister, Junius Jayawardene, and his cabinet ministers were officially sworn into office in Colombo on Saturday (23 July) as efforts were made to bring post-election violence under control. A curfew was imposed on Sunday (24 July) in the capital and sever other districts after 34 people died in political incidents.
SYNOPSIS: A large, enthusiastic crowd gathered outside the President's residence in Colombo to welcome Mr Jayawardene on Sunday. He and his United National Party chalked up the largest majority ever obtained by a Sri Lankan government, capturing 139 of the 168 seats in Parliament.
His huge victory over Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike's Freedom Party has left Sri Lanka with virtually no opposition. She has described her defeat as a temporary setback, but wished the new leader success.
The 20 cabinet ministers watched as Mr Jayawardene received his oath of office from President William Gopallawa. He now faces a mass of problems -- 19 percent unemployment, spiralling inflation, official mismanagement and corruption. But one of the major issues is how to prevent the island's slide towards racial war. Ever since Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain 29 years ago there has been strife between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority.
As well as reviving the economy and cutting prices, Mr Jayawardene intends to scrap the current Parliamentary system of Government and replace it with a Presidential system.
The only woman cabinet minister is Mr. Wimala Kannangara who's in charge of shipping, tourism and aviation. On Sunday she received a enthusiastic welcome when she visited Kegalle. There were few signs of the violence which had struck the town after the election result was known.
Colombo was also quiet that day after the sudden burst of violence which followed the remarkably peaceful election polling. A night curfew had been imposed there and police say that most of killings there and in other areas appeared to be the result of long--standing political feuds. Much of the lawlessness was looting and arson and supporters of all three of the main national parties appeared to be equally involved. Many shops and houses owned by political several business premises were set on fire. Numerous arrests were made.