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The BBC's Susannah Price in Colombo
"The president made an emotional speech"
 real 28k

Susannah Price
"Most voters said they wanted to see an end to the campaigning and election rallies"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 22 December, 1999, 15:20 GMT
Kumaratunga promises end to hatred

President Kumaratunga is hugged by a supporter at her residence President Kumaratunga is hugged by a supporter at her residence

President Chandrika Kumaratunga of Sri Lanka has pledged to bring an end to the country's ethnic war in a speech after she was sworn in for a second six-year term.

She issued a stern warning to separatists fighting for a Tamil homeland in the north and east and said she was determined to rid Sri Lanka of hatred and destruction.

This victory is without doubt a very special and portentous gift of the gods
Chandrika Kumaratunga
"Let all the citizens of this country be warned...that this government will not for one second be deterred from taking the strongest possible action against anyone who supports terror," she said in a speech.

"There is no individual on this earth more determined than I am to end this country's wretched and mindless bloodshed and destruction," she added.

Ms Kumaratunga, who twice broke down in tears during a speech, appealed to her nearest challenger, opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, to join her government in finding a solution to the conflict.

After taking her oath before the Chief Justice Sarath Silva at a simple ceremony at her official residence, Temple Trees, she swore in her cabinet without any changes.

Reduced majority

President Kumaratunga won 51% of the vote in Tuesday's elections, with her Mr Wickremesinghe winning 42.7%.

Conflict in Sri Lanka
  • An unwinnable war?
  • Timeline of conflict
  • Leading the Tigers
  • The ethnic divide
  • The result denied Mrs Kumaratunga the sweeping mandate she sought when she called the election 11 months early, and was far below the landslide 62% she won in 1994.

    About three-quarters of Sri Lanka's 11.7m voters took part in the poll - a record turn-out - but it was marred by violence and allegations of misconduct.

    Ranil Wickremesinghe finished a credible second Ranil Wickremesinghe finished a credible second
    On Saturday, President Kumaratunga had a narrow escape when a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber attacked her campaign rally.

    At least 35 people were killed and more than 100 injured after the blast and another one at an opposition rally.

    Correspondents said it was possible Mrs Kumaratunga had benefited from a sympathy vote following her narrow escape - but that the attack may equally have turned Sinhalese voters away from the opposition's plan to open talks with the rebels.

    Mr Wickremesinghe saw a surge in his Tamil support, after he had advocated foreign-aided talks with the Tamil Tigers.

    Analysts say the loss of Tamil votes for President Kumaratunga was off-set by fresh inroads she made into Sinhalese voters who supported a hard line against the separatists.

    Meanwhile, election monitors were investigating allegations of vote-rigging and intimidation by party activists, especially in the central areas of the island.

    They said there were 500 fraud complaints from across the country.

    Fierce fighting has been taking place in northern Sri Lanka between Tamil Tiger rebels and Sri Lankan defence forces.

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    See also:
    22 Dec 99 |  South Asia
    Kumaratunga re-elected in Sri Lanka
    17 Dec 99 |  South Asia
    Chandrika Kumaratunga: Politics in the blood
    22 Dec 99 |  South Asia
    Analysis: War likely to continue
    20 Dec 99 |  South Asia
    Analysis: Violence sets poll agenda
    20 Dec 99 |  South Asia
    Kumaratunga ahead in Sri Lanka poll
    20 Dec 99 |  South Asia
    Prayer beats politics on the plantation
    10 Nov 99 |  Talking Point
    Can there be peace in Sri Lanka?
    17 Dec 99 |  South Asia
    Ranil Wickramasinghe: The opposition's hope

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