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Friday, Dec 06, 2019

Sri Lanka’s new president names brother Mahinda Rajapaksa as PM

Government spokesman Vijayananda Herath said Mahinda Rajapaksa will assume duties as premier soon after incumbent Ranil Wickremesinghe steps down on Thursday morning.

world Updated: Nov 20, 2019 18:24 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press
Colombo
Mahinda Rajapaksa will assume duties as premier soon after incumbent Ranil Wickremesinghe steps down on Thursday morning.
Mahinda Rajapaksa will assume duties as premier soon after incumbent Ranil Wickremesinghe steps down on Thursday morning.(Reuters Photo)
         

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Wednesday he will step down, clearing the way for Parliament to choose a prime minister to work with newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Wickremesinghe said he will submit his resignation to the president on Thursday.

“Even though we have a parliamentary majority we accept the mandate received by Mr. Rajapaksa and have decided to make way for him to form a government of his preference,” Wickremesinghe said in a statement.

“I value democracy, respect democracy and act democratically,” he said.

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The move clears the first hurdle for Rajapaksa in appointing his own Cabinet. Under the constitution, Wickremesinghe could continue as prime minister until March, when the president can legally dissolve Parliament.

Wickremesinghe initially wanted an early general election but his party opposed it, saying a vote soon after its presidential defeat could further erode its support.

Rajapaksa can now appoint a caretaker government, dissolve Parliament next March and force new elections, or wait until next August when Parliament’s term ends.

Rajapaksa won last Saturday’s presidential election, beating Sajith Premadasa, the candidate of Wickremesinghe’s party.

Keheliya Rabukwella, a lawmaker supporting Rajapaksa, said a new prime minister will be announced when the president receives Wickremesinghe’s resignation.

Speakers at Rajapaksa’s election rallies said Rajapaksa’s brother, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, would be appointed prime minister.