President Rajapaksa’s brother elected new speaker of parliament


Colombo : One of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brothers was selected as the new speaker of Sri Lanka’s parliament Thursday, a day after official results confirmed a solid victory for the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).

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Chamal Rajapaksa, 67, the president’s older brother and a former minister of ports and aviation was unanimously elected in the inaugural session.

The president’s younger brother, Basil, his son Namal and cousin Nirupama Rajapaksa are also among the 144 UPFA parliamentarians in the 225-seat assembly.

The elections were held April 8, but due to a re-poll in two districts following allegations of malpractices the final results were released only Wednesday.

Former army commander General Sarath Fonseka who was elected to parliament on an opposition ticket also attended the inaugural session. He is currently in military custody on allegations of conspiracy against the government and is facing two separate court martial trials.

The ex-army chief was arrested Feb 8, less than two weeks after he unsuccessfully challenged President Rajapaksa in the presidential elections.

The UPFA won by the biggest margin since 1977 and the victory was largely seen as a vote to Rajapaksa in appreciation for ending the 26-year-old civil war against the rebels Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Rajapaksa’s UPFA obtained 60 per cent of the vote while the main opposition United National Party (UNP) led by former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe received only 29.3 percent.