Mahinda Rajapaksa to take oath of PM of Sri Lanka for 4th time today

Sri Lanka’s former President Mahinda Rajapaka will be sworn in as the country’s new Prime Minister for the fourth time today.

The 74-year-old Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) leader, who polled over 500,000 individual preference votes — the highest ever recorded by a candidate in the history of elections — will take the oath of office for the ninth Parliament at the sacred Rajamaha Viharaya in Kelaniya, a north Colombo suburb, according to an official statement.

The SLPP, led by Mahinda, registered a landslide victory in the general election, securing two-thirds majority in Parliament needed to amend the Constitution to further consolidate the powerful Rajapaksa family’s grip on power.

It won in 145 constituencies, bagging a total of 150 seats with its allies, a two-thirds majority in the 225-member Parliament. It polled 6.8 million votes (59.9 per cent).

The Cabinet of Ministers will be sworn-in on Monday, followed by the swearing-in of the state and deputy ministers, media reported.

The new government has decided to restrict the size of the Cabinet to 26, though it can be increased up to 30 in terms of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

The Rajapaksa family — including SLPP founder and its National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa, who is the younger brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with the eldest being Mahinda — has dominated Sri Lankan politics for two decades. Mahinda previously served as the president for nearly a decade from 2005 to 2015.