COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s newly elected Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, was sworn in as the country’s 23rd premier on Thursday. His younger brother, Gotabhaya, the country’s newly elected president, presided over the 74-year-old’s inauguration ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat. Mahinda will head the country’s caretaker government until general elections in August 2020.
Former President Maithripala Sirisena and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who officially stepped down Thursday morning, were also present at the ceremony.
Wickremesinghe resigned from his post to make way for Rajapaksa’s regime, which he said had a “clear mandate” to form a new government.
According to official sources, the announcement of the interim cabinet, due to take place on Thursday, has been postponed until Friday.
This is the third time Mahinda Rajapaksa has been appointed prime minister of Sri Lanka. He gained a slim majority with the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in 2004, and served a 52-day term during last year’s constitutional crisis.
Meanwhile, key members of the defeated Democratic United National Front (DUNF) party submitted a written request urging the speaker of parliament, Karu Jayasuriya, to appoint Sajith Premadasa to the post of Leader of the Opposition.
The main signatories of that petition were outgoing ministers Rauf Hakeem, Rishath Bathiudeen, Mano Ganeshan and senior members from the United National Party. The former education minister, Akila Viraj Kariyawsam, also submitted an individual request to the speaker requesting him to appoint Wickremesinghe instead.
Following the letters of resignation submitted by nine governors on Wednesday, the president appointed six new governors to take over their vacant provinces.
The new governors are A J M Muzammil for the North Western province, Tikiri Kobbekaduwa for Sabaragamuwa province, Seetha Arambepola for the Western province, Lalith U Gamage for the Central province, Raja Kollure for Uva, and Willy Gamage for the Southern province. Of those six new appointments, only Muzammil has previously held office as a provincial governor.