New Sri Lanka government has 5 Rajapaksa family members
14 August 2020
Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s prime minister on Wednesday by President Gotabaya Rajapaksha to head the new cabinet that has two more members of the family.
Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday named two more of his relatives - eldest brother Chamal Rajapaksa and Mahinda's son Namal Rajapaksa - to the 26-member cabinet, further consolidating the family's grip on power.
One of their nephews, Shasheendra Rajapaksa, also joined the government as a state agriculture minister, although he will not be in the cabinet.
While the president retains the defence ministry, his elder brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, bagged the finance, urban development and Buddhist affairs ministries.
Eldest brother Chamal Rajapaksa is irrigation minister and Mahinda's son Namal Rajapaksa is the youth and sports minister.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 71, became president in November last year and named Mahinda, a 74-year-old former president, as caretaker prime minister.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the defence minister under Mahinda Rajapaksa's presidency, during which the government forces defeated the Tamil rebels, ending nearly three decades of conflict.
Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party - led by the Rajapaksas - won 145 of the 225 seats in the parliament.
The party secured nearly 60 per cent, or more than 6.85 million, of the total valid votes, well ahead of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) party, which came in second with 54 seats.
The brothers want to scrap a 2015 constitutional amendment that transferred some executive powers from the president to the prime minister, along with independent institutions to run public services and the judiciary.
The Mahinda-led cabinet held its first meeting on Thursday to discuss proposals for constitutional changes and the new budget.