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    Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Sworn in for Second T

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    Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn-in for his second term Friday. He defeated a popular army general in last January's vote. He has vowed to maintain peace in the country and help push forward its economic growth.

    Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in for his second term Friday in the Colombo.

    The ceremony, attended by local and foreign dignitaries and guests, began with a religious Buddhist ceremony and rounded off with a military parade and gun salute.

    Addressing the nation after taking his oath of office, the president stressed the importance of maintaining peace in the nation and the need to accelerate economic development.

    [Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan President]:
    "In our lifetime, most of us have seen two destructive uprisings in the South and a 30- year-old separatist war in the north. We saw how the two uprisings and the separatist war brought my motherland down on the world map."

    He also promised to continue with the democratic process in the war-damaged north.

    [Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan President]:
    "The people in the north voted freely in the presidential election. They chose their representatives in the general elections. In the future they will be given the opportunity to elect their representatives for local government institutions."

    The main opposition United National Party boycotted the swearing-in ceremony.

    Rajapaksa won the January 26 presidential election defeating former war-winning army commander Sarath Fonseka.

    The 64-year-old veteran politician won his re-election with a landslide victory.

    It is a stunning turnaround for a man who won his first term with barely 100,000 votes. Since then he has established a record of shattering expectations, crushing his rivals and displaying a mix of guile, charm and force in getting what he wants.