Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as the country’s new prime minister at a historic Buddhist temple, days after his party won a landslide victory in the General Election.
The 74-year-old Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) leader was administered the oath of office for the ninth Parliament by his younger brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the sacred Rajamaha Viharaya in Kelaniya, a north Colombo suburb, reported a news agency.
Mahinda Rajapaksa completed 50 years of parliamentary politics in July this year. He was elected as a Member of Parliament at the young age of 24 in 1970. He has since been elected President twice and has been appointed Prime Minister thrice.
The SLPP, led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, registered a landslide victory in the August 5 general election, securing two-thirds majority in Parliament needed to amend the Constitution to further consolidate the powerful Rajapaksa family’s grip on power.
Mahinda Rajapaksa polled over 500,000 individual preference votes — the highest ever recorded by a candidate in the history of elections.
The SLPP won in 145 constituencies, bagging a total of 150 seats with its allies, a two-thirds majority in the 225-member Parliament. The cabinet ministers, state and deputy ministers are expected to be sworn-in August 10 .
The Rajapaksa family — including SLPP founder and its National Organiser 69-year-old Basil Rajapaksa, who is the younger brother of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 71, and Mahinda Rajapaksa — has dominated Sri Lankan politics for two decades.
Mahinda Rajapaksa previously served as the president for nearly a decade from 2005 to 2015. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had won the November presidential election on the SLPP ticket.