Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:40 UK

Sri Lanka president names party veteran Jayaratne as PM

New Sri Lankan Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne smiles during a swearing in ceremony in Colombo on April 21, 2010.
Mr Jayaratne is not expected to wield much power

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has appointed one of his party's elder statesmen as prime minister.

DM Jayaratne, a former teacher in his 70s, was sworn in on Wednesday. MPs will choose a new Speaker on Thursday.

Mr Rajapaksa is working out who will be in his new cabinet after final official results confirmed his alliance had won a landslide in parliamentary elections.

The result was delayed for nearly two weeks because of repolls in some areas hit by violence the first time round.


Mr Jayaratne recently said that "everyone" wanted him to be the next premier and that people in Buddhist and Hindu temples, mosques and churches all over the island were invoking divine blessings to secure the post for him.

He has even said he has a specially tailored suit ready for doing the job.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo says the prime minister's post is not a strong one in present-day Sri Lanka.

Our correspondent says President Rajapaksa is now all-powerful, boosted by a huge majority in parliament and in office until 2016 or possibly longer if he seeks to change the constitution.

On Thursday the 225 elected legislators will choose a Speaker and then be sworn in.

One of their number is Gen Sarath Fonseka, the former army chief who made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in January.

He is expected to be in parliament although the government has locked him up and brought him before a military court on charges of improper behaviour - indictments which he rejects and says are politically motivated.

The newly appointed Mr Jayaratne says he does not intend to serve much longer in politics.

There is speculation that the president may appoint one of his own brothers as prime minister later this year, our correspondent says.

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific