Newly-elected Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Wednesday named his elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister of the island nation, news agency AFP reported. The appointment came immediately after Ranil Wickremesinghe resigned as the PM, days after the ruling party’s candidate lost the presidential election to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
In a statement, Wickremesinghe said that he had met President Rajapaksa on Tuesday and discussed the future of the country, PTI said quoting Colombo Gazette newspaper.
Despite his government having a majority in the Parliament, Wickremesinghe said he decided to step down in respect of the mandate in the Presidential polls, where Gotabhaya Rajapaksa defeated Wickremesinghe’s deputy Sajith Premadasa.
Sri Lanka People’s Front candidate and the country’s former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was Sunday declared the winner in the presidential elections, garnering 52.25 per cent votes.
Mahinda earlier today had demanded Wickremesinghe’s resignation asserting that governance will improve if the President and the Cabinet are from the same party. “I think it is better if we have General Elections. Many Cabinet members have already stepped down. I think it is more effective to have a Government where the President and Cabinet are from the same party,” the Daily Financial Times quoted Lanka’s former strongman as saying.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was the leader of the opposition, held the prime minister’s post briefly in 2018 when he was appointed by then-president Maithripala Sirisena, in a move that had put the country into a constitutional crisis. However, he had to resign in December last year after the Supreme Court made the embattled former strongman’s efforts to cling to premiership untenable.
Mahinda had served as Sri Lanka’s President from 2005 till 2015, making him South Asia’s longest-serving leader. He became the country’s youngest-ever parliamentarian in 1970 at the age of 24.
-with PTI inputs