Sajith Premadasa, the United National Party (UNP) leader who lost to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the presidential election, formally took over as the Leader of the Opposition in Sri Lankan Parliament on Friday.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announced in Parliament that Premadasa had been accepted as the Opposition Leader, the Colombo Gazette reported.
The UNP-led United National Front (UNF), the main Opposition in Parliament, had proposed the name of Premadasa as Leader of the Opposition following the Presidential election.
Following a meeting of the UNP parliamentary group on December 5, the party leader and ex-prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe agreed to nominate Premadasa, 52, in his place.
Premadasa lost to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the presidential election held on November 16.
The UNP leader resigned from the deputy leader’s position after the defeat and was thought to be considering quitting politics for good.
Wickremesinghe was under increasing pressure from the party to leave the job of leader with every election defeat since 1999.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 70, a former military officer, was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s seventh President on November 18 after he defeated Premadasa by more than 13 lakh votes, marking the return of the powerful Rajapaksa dynasty.
He named his elder brother and former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister after Wickremesinghe resigned from the post following the election debacle. The 74-year-old leader will function as the Prime Minister of the caretaker Cabinet until the general election in 2020.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa is widely expected to dissolve the current assembly by early March to set dates for a fresh parliamentary election by the end of April or early May. PTI