Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajpaksha who is the first President to be voted into office without having served as a Member of Parliament will reportedly deliver his inaugural speech at the Parliament on January 3. The new session of the Parliament will commence later that day. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected on November 16, 2019.
During the ceremonial sitting of the Legislature, the President will be greeted by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and the Secretary-General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayaka. This will be followed by the hoisting of the national flag as well as a 21-gun salute. The session will begin at 10 am. Rajapaksa is the younger brother to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who held office from 2005 to 2015. The 70-year-old President had a 49 per cent vote share during the November elections.
In related news, a Sri Lankan court has granted bail to a Swiss Embassy employee on Monday, December 30. The embassy employee was detained pending charges that she made statements to create disaffection toward the government and had also fabricated evidence. Before being arrested the embassy employee had claimed she had been abducted and tortured because her captors wanted "sensitive" information. She was finally granted bail after two weeks of detention on Monday.
The Swiss Foreign Ministry previously called the alleged November 25 abduction of the embassy employee a “very serious and unacceptable attack” and summoned Sri Lanka’s ambassador to demand an investigation. It also criticized a lack of due process in the case. The Sri Lankan authorities have also denied the request to fly the employee and her family to Switzerland.
Rajapaksa became President after winning a Nov. 16 election. Shortly after that, a Sri Lankan police investigator, Nishantha Silva, fled to Switzerland.
Silva had been investigating alleged abductions, torture, killings and enforced disappearances of journalists and activists when Rajapaksa was defence chief under the presidency of his brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been accused of overseeing what was known as “white van” abduction squads that whisked away critics. Some were returned after being tortured. Others were never seen again. He has denied the allegations.