Sri Lanka's strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa to take oath of PM Sunday
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's former president Mahinda Rajapaka will be sworn in as the country's new prime minister for the fourth time at a historic Buddhist temple on Sunday, consolidating the hard-line political dynasty's grip on power, reports PTI.
The 74-year-old Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) leader, who polled over 500,000 individual preference votes — the highest ever recorded by a candidate in the history of elections — will take the oath of office for the ninth Parliament at the sacred Rajamaha Viharaya in Kelaniya, a north Colombo suburb, according to an official statement.
The SLPP, led by Mahinda, registered a landslide victory in the general election, securing two-thirds majority in Parliament needed to amend the Constitution to further consolidate the powerful Rajapaksa family’s grip on power.
It won in 145 constituencies, bagging a total of 150 seats with its allies, a two-thirds majority in the 225-member Parliament. It polled 6.8 million votes (59.9 per cent).
The Cabinet of Ministers will be sworn-in on Monday, followed by the swearing-in of the state and deputy ministers, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported. The new government has decided to restrict the size of the Cabinet to 26, though it can be increased up to 30 in terms of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
The Rajapaksa family — including SLPP founder and its National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa, who is the younger brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with the eldest being Mahinda — has dominated Sri Lankan politics for two decades. Mahinda previously served as the president for nearly a decade from 2005 to 2015.
President Gotabaya had won the November presidential election on the SLPP ticket.
In the parliamentary election, he was seeking 150 seats mandatory to execute constitutional changes, including to repeal the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which had curbed the presidential powers while strengthening the role of Parliament.
Reacting on the prospects of amending the Constitution, SLPP Chairman G L Peiris on Friday said it would only be carried out after much thought and consideration.
"Clearly, some amendments are required. It cannot continue in this manner when it comes to governing the country", he told reporters.