Chamal Rajapaksa, a senior Minister in the previous government and brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was on Thursday unanimously elected Speaker of the newly elected Parliament on its opening day.

The smooth election of a nominee of the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) was a foregone conclusion after the combine secured six seats short of a two-thirds majority in the 225-member House.

One of the highlights of the inaugural session was the participation of the former Army Chief, retired General Sarath Fonseka.

General Fonseka, who led the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) from his military custody, has been elected from the Colombo district. Facing two separate courts martial on many of charges, the commander-turned-politician was brought to Parliament under heavy security. He made a brief speech demanding his release from what he termed as “illegal detention”. One of the first items on the agenda of the new Parliament is extension of the emergency laws.

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