Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on Sunday at a historic Buddhist temple, after his party Sri Lanka People’s Party’s(SLPP) landslide win in the General Election. 

The 74-year-old former president of the country was administered the oath of office for the ninth Parliament by  President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is his younger brother. The ceremony took place in Rajamaha Viharaya in Kelaniya, situated in the suburbs of North Colombo.

The SLPP leader won 500,000 individual preference votes — the highest ever recorded by a candidate in the history of elections.

Rajapaksa led SLPP won in 145 constituencies and occupied two-thirds majority of seats in a Parliament of 225 members, and has 150 seats along with its allies.

Rajapaksa became a Member of Parliament in 1970 at the age of 24, and completed 50 years of his parliamentary political career this year. He has been appointed as Prime Minister thrice before and has served as President twice, from 2005 to 2015.

In the parliamentary election, he was seeking 150 seats mandatory to execute constitutional changes, including to repeal the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which had curbed the presidential powers while strengthening the role of Parliament.

Activists, already alarmed by the diminishing space for dissent and criticism in the island nation, fear such a move could lead to authoritarianism.

The biggest casualty from the election outcome was the United National Party (UNP) of former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe which managed to win only one seat. The country’s grand old party failed to win a single seat from any of the 22 districts.

UNP leader and four-time prime minister Wikremesinghe was unseated for the first time since he entered Parliament in 1977.