Lankan Prez names elder brother as PM

Colombo, November 20

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today named his elder brother and former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister after incumbent Ranil Wickremesinghe announced his resignation following the election debacle.

Mahinda, the main opposition leader, will be appointed as Prime Minister after incumbent Wickremesinghe steps down formally on Thursday, his spokesman Rohan Weliwita was quoted as saying by Times Online.

The former president, who will function as the PM of the caretaker cabinet until the general election, is expected to be sworn in at 1 pm before assuming office at around 3 pm, it added.

Mahinda was appointed the PM on October 26, 2018 by the then President Maithripala Sirisena, who sacked Wickremesinghe in a controversial move that plunged the country into an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

He resigned in December as two crucial Supreme Court decisions made the former strongman's efforts to cling to premiership untenable.

The apex court later unanimously declared that the dissolution of Parliament by Sirisena was "illegal".

Mahinda won power in 2005 and went on to become South Asia's longest-serving leader. He became the country's youngest ever parliamentarian in 1970 at the age of 24.

The two brothers led a decisive campaign that helped end the island nation's three decade long civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Earlier in the day, Wickremesinghe announced his resignation, days after the ruling party's candidate lost the poll to Rajapaksa, who defeated Sajith Premadasa. — PTI

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