Sri Lanka Ruling Coalition Appoints New Prime Minister

D.M. Jayaratne is a longtime senior politician but will play a limited role under the Sri Lankan president

Sri Lanka's ruling coalition has named D.M. Jayaratne prime minister following the coalition's landslide victory in parliamentary elections.

Jayaratne, who was first elected to Parliament in 1970, is a senior member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, one of the main political parties in the ruling coalition.  As prime minister, he will play a limited role under President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

In results announced Wednesday, the president's United People's Freedom Alliance won 144 seats in the 225-seat parliament.  The coalition fell just six seats short of the two-thirds majority Mr. Rajapaksa needs to amend the constitution.

The main opposition United National Party secured 60 seats in the election, and the former rebel party, the Tamil National Alliance, won 14 seats.  The new parliament will hold its first session on Thursday.

On Tuesday, a re-vote was held in two Sri Lankan districts after fraudulent ballots were discovered in the April 8th election. 

The parliamentary vote was held just two months after presidential polls in which Mr. Rajapaksa won an overwhelming victory.

The two nationwide elections were the first peacetime polls since the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009, following 26 years of civil war.

President Rajapaksa has said he will reconcile with Sri Lanka's ethnic-Tamil minority.   He has also promised economic reform.  But his political opponents and human rights groups accuse the president of suppressing political dissent and the media.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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