• Friday, Dec 04, 2020
  • Last Update : 02:45 am

Sri Lanka president to call snap parliamentary election in March

  • Published at 03:33 pm November 22nd, 2019
SRI-LANKA-POLITICS
Sri Lanka's new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (C) and his Prime Minister brother Mahinda Rajapaksa (L), sit for a group photograph after the ministerial swearing-in ceremony in Colombo on November 22, 2019 AFP

Currently the Rajapaksas and their allies have just 96 lawmakers in the 225-seat parliament, making it hard for them to pass legislation

Sri Lanka's new president said Friday that he will call a snap parliamentary election in March following his sweeping victory at the weekend.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa is hoping to ride a wave of popularity by calling an election six months before the current parliament's five-year term expires on March 1.

"I will consult the people at the earliest opportunity I get under the constitution," he said, after swearing-in a new cabinet headed by his brother Mahinda, a former president who will now serve as premier and finance minister.

The brothers are credited with brutally defeating Tamil separatist militants in 2009 to end Sri Lanka's bloody civil war, making them adored among the majority Sinhalese-Buddhist majority.

For the same reason they are feared by many Tamils, and also among the Muslim minority who have seen increased hostility since Islamist extremist attacks killed 269 people in April.

Currently the Rajapaksas and their allies have just 96 lawmakers in the 225-seat parliament, making it hard for them to pass legislation. 

The opposition of outgoing premier Ranil Wickremesinghe is also six MPs short of a majority.

The new 16-member cabinet also includes another Rajapaksa brother, Chamal, who was made minister of agriculture and irrigation in addition to trade.

Foreign affairs was given to Dinsesh Gunawardena, 70, a leader of a small Sinhala nationalist party in coalition with the ruling party.

The only female in the cabinet, Pavitra Wanniarachchi, will take on women's affairs and health.

Nobody was named to the defence or law and order portfolios. 

The International Monetary Fund said earlier this month that Sri Lanka's economy was slowly recovering from the devastating effects of the April 21 attacks. 

But the international credit rating agency Fitch warned Thursday that the new president's pledges to increase social spending, public-sector wages and pensions could damage Sri Lanka's public finances. 

During Mahinda's 2005-15 presidency, Sri Lanka borrowed almost $7 billion from China for infrastructure projects -- many of which turned into white elephants mired in corruption -- pushing up Sri Lanka's debts.

In a possible sign that he intends to avoid a repeat of Sri Lanka's strategic drift towards Beijing under his brother, Gotabaya's first official trip abroad will be to India next week.

50
50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail