Mahinda Rajapaksa sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new prime minister

This is the third time Mahinda Rajapaksa has been appointed prime minister of Sri Lanka. (Reuters)
Updated 22 November 2019

Mahinda Rajapaksa sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new prime minister

  • Rajapaksa takes office for third time, days after his brother Gotabhaya became president

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.

 
 


India moves Kashmiri village leaders to safety after wave of attacks

Updated 27 min 10 sec ago

India moves Kashmiri village leaders to safety after wave of attacks

  • Separatists fighting Indian rule in the disputed region have stepped up attacks on lower level politicians
  • Two security officials said that around 500 politicians had been moved since Thursday

SRINAGAR: India has shifted scores of village and municipality leaders, mostly from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, to secure locations in Kashmir after a spate of militant attacks, police and two security officials said on Friday.
Separatists fighting Indian rule in the disputed region have stepped up attacks on lower level politicians, many of whom do not have personal security guards, in recent weeks.
“It is a temporary arrangement,” Kashmir valley’s police chief Vijay Kumar told Reuters. “We will devise a strategy to provide security to those who are vulnerable.”
Two security officials, asking not to be named, said that around 500 politicians had been moved since Thursday, after militants shot dead a village council leader from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in southern Kashmir.
Many of those under protection have been housed in hotels and government buildings guarded by paramilitary troops, one official said. “We don’t want to take any chances,” he said.
Sofi Yousuf, a BJP vice president in Kashmir, said that his colleagues were being targeted to prevent the party from expanding in the Himalayan region, where insurgents have waged war against New Delhi since the late 1980s.
“They want to create a fear psychosis on the ground,” Yousuf said.
The federal government has been trying to promote political activities since it revoked Kashmir’s special status in an attempt to draw it closer to the rest of the country.
But the loss of special privileges stoked anger across the region and this week authorities imposed a strict lockdown on the first anniversary of that decision.
Underlining the difficulties the government faces in restoring normalcy to Kashmir, around a dozen BJP members resigned from the party this week, fearing militant attacks.