President Rajapaksa goes by principle of seniority

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday appointed Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Jayaratne (79), a founder member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), as the Prime Minister.

Mr. Rajapaksa administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr. Jayaratne on the eve of the opening session of Parliament after the April 8 general election.

Mr. Jayaratne was among the 17 members nominated by the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (SLFP), earlier in the day, to its National List of the newly-constituted Parliament.

With the completion of the re-election to 37 booths in two parliamentary constituencies of Kandy and Trincomalee on Tuesday, the Election Commission released the official results.

Of the 196 constituencies for which election was held, the ruling combine led by Mr. Rajapaksa has secured 127 seats and picked up another 17 from the 29 from the National List allotted on the basis of percentage of votes polled by the alliances and parties.

The combine is short of six seats for a two-thirds majority. Political and diplomatic observers feel that after his emphatic victories, Mr. Rajapaksa could easily manage the numbers. Mr. Rajapaksa appears to have been strictly guided by the principle of seniority given the large number of aspirants for the job including his own brother Basil Rajapaksa.

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayaka did not contest the election. Indications are that the Cabinet would be named on Friday. Mr. Rajapaksa has vowed to keep the size of the Cabinet small.

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