Sri Lanka's newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gave a speech on November 18 at his swearing-in ceremony and said that his country will maintain friendly relations with all the countries and remain neutral in matters involving international powers to stay out of any disputes. Former defence secretary's statement is considered to be important as Sri Lanka has historically been a major commercial hub due to its strategic position in the Indian Ocean. Rajapaksa swept to victory on Sunday defeating his nearest rival Sajith Premadasa by a margin of over 13 lakh votes. During his first address to the nation at the Ruwanweli Seya in Anuradhapura, he mentioned about matters such as foreign policy and sustainable development.
While speaking about foreign policy, he noted that Sri Lanka will maintain friendly ties with all nations and would remain neutral between international powers to avoid conflicts, according to the reports. He also promised to support the UN's sustainable development goals and make Sri Lanka one of the fast-growing countries in sustainable development. He made sure that corruption would not be tolerated under his administration. Rajapaksa is considered to be a war-hero in the island nation by the Buddhist majority and mostly distrusted by the minority Tamils.
During his first media interaction in October after being declared as a presidential candidate of the Sri Lanka People's Party (SLPP), he said that he would not honour the country's commitments to the UN Human Rights Council on post-war accountability and reconciliation. He said that Sri Lanka will always work with the UN but can't recognize what they signed with the past governments. He was appointed to the post of defence secretary in November 2005 by then newly elected President Mahinda. He looked after the military operation which defeated the militant group, LTTE in May 2009 and earned him the tag of a "war hero".