Mahinda Rajapaksa takes PM office for third time

Mahinda Rajapaksa takes PM office for third time

Agency News

Colombo, Nov 21 : Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed the office of prime minister for the third time on Thursday and said that he was looking forward to serve all Sri Lankans and promote the shared partnership for peace and prosperity with India.

"I’m honoured to have taken oaths as Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister. I look forward to serving all Sri Lankans as we take our country forward with a new vision to further develop and protect it for future generations," Rajapaksa said in a Twitter post.

This is the third time Rajapaksa is taking office as prime minister. He had been appointed prime minister after the United Peoples Front Alliance had gained a slim majority at the Parliamentary elections of 2004. He had briefly served as Prime Minister again, for a period of just 52 days, in October last year. Rajapaksa had served as Opposition Leader until his swaring-in as the new premier this afternoon. Rajapaksa, ruling as the president from 2005 to 2015, took oath as the prime minister a day after leader of the former ruling United National Party resigned from the post.

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tendered his resignation after presidential candidate from his party Sajith Premadasa lost last Saturday's presidential election. His younger brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa has taken over as president of the island nation after last week's presidential election. For the first time in the history of Sri Lanka, the two brothers are holding the top positions in the government. In a separate tweet, the Sri Lankan prime minister thanked his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, who wished him well.

"Thank you Prime Minister @narendramodi. Let us continue to promote our shared partnership for peace and prosperity for both our countries and the region," he said.

Congratulating Rajapaksa, Modi had said he was looking forward to working closely for further strengthening fraternal India-Sri Lanka ties.

On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar paid a courtesy call on Rajapaksa and discussed strengthening of bilateral relations.

"External Affairs Minister of India, @DrSJaishankar paid a courtesy call to me last evening. Strengthening of the already existing bilateral relations between our two nations was discussed," Rajapaksa said.

Rajapaksa had visited India in February this year.

The newly elected Sri Lankan president will now be in India on November 29 at the invitation of Modi. "I was pleased to welcome @DrSJaishankar as envoy of Indian Premier Shri @NarendraModi and was honored to accept his invitation to visit India as my first overseas visit and to strengthen the relationship and discuss key aspects of regional security, peace and economic development," Gotabaya Rajapaksa has tweeted. (UNI)