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Sirisena for foreign policy to spur development

Sirisena for foreign policy to spur development

Colombo: Sri Lanka's newly-elected president Maithripala Sirisena Sunday said he would have a broad foreign policy to spur development.

Speaking in the hill town of Kandy in central Sri Lanka, Sirisena, who took oath Friday, said he was keen to extend an olive branch to the international community, Xinhua reported.

Sirisena said he was ready to work with "all organisations" to improve the image of Sri Lanka.

"We will engage with all countries and organisations to improve relations and work towards the well-being and prosperity of all our citizens."

Sirisena reiterated his key campaign pledge to clamp down on corruption.

"Our government will work tirelessly to wipe out bribery and corruption. I will not let the excesses of the past return. Our country needs a humane man and not a king. I will dedicate my life to serving the people."

Sirisena, who was a cabinet member under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, crossed over to become the opposition's presidential candidate in November.

Since his victory he has appealed to other members of his predecessor's party to do the same and assist in a 100-day programme aimed at trimming the powers of the executive presidency.

"I appeal to all parties and MPs to think of what is best for this country and join with us to drive the country towards its expected aspirations. I hope everyone will heed my plea and join us."

Another key campaign pledge that was reiterated was devolving power to Sri Lanka's Tamil minority in the northern part of the country.

"For the sake of a strengthened democracy, I pledge to reduce executive powers that put an unhealthy amount of corrosive power in the hands of one individual...

"I also promise to build peace and understanding between all communities of this country so that we can move forward as a united nation."

Tamil and Muslim minority support that counted for about 20 percent of Sri Lanka's 20.4 million population was considered to be a crucial factor in Sirisena's win.

He beat Rajapaksa, who stayed a decade in power, by 450,000 odd votes in the hotly-contested election Thursday.

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