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Rajapaksa fails to get 2/3rd majority in parliament

world Updated: Apr 21, 2010 18:33 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The ruling coalition the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa has secured a comfortable majority in Parliament but failed to get the ambitious 2/3rd majority, according to the final general election result announced on Wednesday after re-polling was held in two areas.

The UPFA secured 4.8 million of the votes, or 60.3 per cent, and bagged 144 seats in the 225-member Parliament.

The performance of the main opposition party, the United National Party (UNP), was the worst, according to reports, for any opposition since 1997: it received 2.3 million votes or 29.3 per cent, winning only 60 seats.

While 196 members in Parliament are directly elected, the remaining 29 are nominated by the parties based on the nationwide proportion of votes they gain.

The ruling coalition however fell six short of two-thirds majority in Parliament required to introduce changes in the Sri Lankan constitution.

A Tamil minority party known as the ITAK took 14 seats, with the Marxist DNA winning seven.

Meanwhile, former plantation industries minister DM Jayaratna was sworn in as prime minister on Wednesday evening. Jayaratna a senior Sri Lanka Freedom Party – the main UPFA constituent -- entered parliament in 1970 and held several key ministerial positions throughout his political career

The new cabinet is to be named later in the day or on Thursday. Former army commander General Sarath Fonseka, who was elected to parliament as candidate of an opposition Marxist party, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) obtained the Defence Ministry's clearance to attend the inaugural parliamentary session on Thursday.

A military spokesman told DPA that the ministry has informed the parliamentary secretary-general that Fonseka could attend the inaugural session.

Fonseka is facing court martial proceedings on allegations of conspiracy against the government and irregularities in contracting procedures while serving as the commander and has been in military custody since February 8.