Colombo – Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn-in as the new prime minister of Sri Lanka on Thursday following his brother’s victory in the presidential election, officials said.
The 74-year-old Rajapaksa was sworn-in before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo in a ceremony broadcast live on television.
Earlier in the day, the outgoing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe handed over his resignation, paving the way for Rajapaksa’s appointment and a new cabinet of ministers.
The 15 new ministers are to be sworn-in later in the day or on Friday for an interim period until parliamentary elections are held in 2020.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, contesting as the presidential candidate for the Sri Lanka Podujana Party (Peoples’ Party), received 52.25 of the vote in weekend elections against Sajith Premadasa of the New Democratic Front alliance, who received 41.99 per cent.
It would be within the president’s powers to dissolve parliament after March 2020 and call for early elections.
However, if both the ruling party and the opposition agree to approve a resolution by a two-thirds majority in the 225-seat parliament then elections could be called even earlier.
President Rajapaksa’s brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has also served as president, in two consecutive terms from 2005 to 2015, during which he played a key role in leading the military to defeat the Tamil rebels, bringing an end to the 26-year conflict in 2009.