COLOMBO: Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in on Sunday as Sri Lankan PM at a centuriesold Buddhist temple after his party won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections that allowed the influential family to consolidate power for the next five years. The 74-year-old former president and Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) chief was administered the oath of office by his younger brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at a gathering of Buddhist monks, representatives of the diplomatic community and other senior officials.
“I am humbled by the opportunity given to me to serve my people again,” he tweeted soon after starting his fourth innings as PM. He said the trust bestowed on him by the people will inspire him to continue to serve the country. He vowed that he would ensure that Sri Lanka would embark on a progressive journey during his tenure.
The SLPP, led by Mahinda and Gotabaya, registered a landslide victory in the August 5 general election, securing two-thirds majority in parliament needed to amend the constitution to further consolidate the powerful Rajapaksa family’s grip on power.
India’s high commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay on Saturday became the first envoy to congratulate the new PM when he called on Mahinda Rajapaksa. Baglay recalled that PM Narendra Modi had complimented the people and government of Sri Lanka on the successful conduct of elections and had acknowledged the impressive electoral performance of the SLPP. He reiterated the strong desire and the commitment of the Indian government to work very closely with the new government and Parliament in Sri Lanka for further strengthening comprehensive bilateral cooperation, the Indian high commission here said.