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Mahinda Rajapaksa Takes Oath as Sri Lanka’s 23rd Prime Minister

This comes as former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe resigned, days after his party lost the presidential election.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa took oath as Sri Lanka's 23rd prime minister on Thursday, 21 November, days after his younger brother, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, was elected the president.

The 74-year-old leader, who was administered the oath by his younger sibling at the Presidential Secretariat, will function as the prime minister of the caretaker cabinet until the country’s general elections in August 2020, PTI reports.

This comes after former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe resigned from his post, days after the his party’s candidate Sajith Premadasa lost the presidential election to Gotabhaya.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Mahinda Rajapaksa on Twitter and said he was looking forward to “working closely with him for further strengthening fraternal India-Sri Lanka ties.”

In response, the Sri Lankan PM thanked Modi, saying, “Let us continue to promote our shared partnership for peace and prosperity for both our countries and the region.”

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In a special statement, former PM Wickremesinghe said that he had met President Rajapaksa on Tuesday and discussed the future of Sri Lanka's Parliament, Colombo Gazette reported.

He said that while his Government still has the majority in Parliament it was decided to respect the mandate given to Rajapaksa at the Presidential election and step down.

He was under pressure to quit and handover the government to the opposite camp after Rajapaksa won the presidential election on Saturday.

Mahinda had been appointed the Prime Minister on 26 October 2018 by the then President Maithripala Sirisena, in a controversial move that plunged the country into an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

He resigned in December as two crucial Supreme Court decisions made the embattled former strongman's efforts to cling to premiership untenable.

The apex court later unanimously declared that the dissolution of Parliament by Sirisena was "illegal".

Mahinda won power in 2005 and went on to become South Asia's longest-serving leader. He became the country's youngest ever parliamentarian in 1970 at the age of 24.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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