President to take oath on Feb. 4

President Mahinda Rajapaksa will take oaths in Kandy for his second term as head of state and head of government on Independence Day February 4, he told the Malwatte and Asgiriya Mahanayake Theras yesterday.

Minister Keheliya Rambukwella who was present at the meeting between the President and the Mahanayakes said the President had informed the prelates of his decision to take oaths on February 4. The President’s decision to take oaths on February 4 ended speculation on when he would do so and whether he would wait until his first term ends in November 2011 to take oaths.

On Thursday, the President told media heads at a meeting that he would consult the Supreme Court on when he should take his oaths for the second term in office.

Parliament to be dissolved on Friday

A proclamation dissolving Parliament will be issued by President Rajapaksa on Friday February 5. Two weeks from then, the Commissioner of Elections will call for nominations for parliamentary elections. The minimum period before which polls could be held is four weeks.Parliament, however, will sit in emergency session when summoned. This is for the debate on the extension of the State of Emergency. General elections are therefore likely sometime in late March or early April.

Rajapaksa to visit Russia

President Mahinda Rajapaksa will make an official visit to Russia beginning February 5. This is his first overseas visit since winning Tuesday’s Presidential election.

Last week the Sunday Times exclusively reported that Sri Lanka was seeking a US$300 million Russian creditline and the deal is to be finalized during President Rajapaksa’s visit.

The creditline is for the purchase of military and landmine clearing equipment, military transport helicopters, arms and ammunition and other weaponry from Russia.

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