New Delhi: Two days after taking oath as the 7th President of the country, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday named his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister of the island nation, local media reported. The development comes after incumbent PM Ranil Wickremesinghe announced his resignation from the post following the defeat in the election.
Mahinda, who was in the main opposition, will assume duty soon after Wickremesinghe steps down formally on Thursday, media reports stated. Mahinda, who was the country’s president from 2005 to 2015, took part in the oath-taking ceremony of his brother two days back.
Once a wartime defence secretary of the country, Gotabaya was on Monday sworn-in as the country’s 7th President at the Ruwanweli Seya precincts in the ancient north-central town of Anuradhapura.
Prior to his oath-taking, the newly-elected president worshipped at the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, a sacred fig tree in the Mahamewna Gardens and Ruwanweli Seya, a stupa and a hemispherical structure containing relics and considered sacred to many Buddhists all over the world, in the town.
“Sustaining the victory is more important than the journey towards it,” Rajapaksa said in a tweet before the swearing-in ceremony.
Rajapaksa secured 52.25 per cent votes (6,924,255), while Premadasa bagged 41.99 per cent (5,564,239) of the total votes polled. Other candidates got 5.76 per cent votes.
On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said newly elected Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to visit India on November 29.
Jaishankar said this after meeting Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka, just a day after the latter took oath as the seventh President of Sri Lanka.
Earlier, PM Modi had also congratulated Rajapaksa on his electoral win and invited him to visit India as his first official foreign tour.
Gotabaya’s election to president’s office assumes significance as he has helped end the island nation’s long civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during his tenure as the defence secretary. In 2006, he survived an assassination attempt carried out by the LTTE with minor injuries.