Newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa can now appoint a caretaker government, dissolve Parliament next March and force new elections, or wait until next August when Parliament’s term ends.
Newly elected Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday named his brother Mahinda as Prime Minister, cementing the grip on power of a clan credited with crushing the Tamil Tigers a decade ago.
Mahinda, a two-term president himself, is due to be sworn in as premier by his brother on Thursday following the resignation of Ranil Wickremesinghe after his party suffered a humiliating defeat at the weekend's presidential polls.
He and brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, are adored by the Sinhala-Buddhist majority — but loathed among minority Tamils — for spearheading the brutal crushing of Tamil Tiger separatists 10 years ago to end Sri Lanka's civil war.
Two other brothers, Basil and Chamal, are also active in politics.
"Prime Minister Rajapaksa will have his cabinet appointed shortly after taking his oath of office," said spokesman Vijayananda Herath.
Around 40,000 Tamil civilians were allegedly killed by the military in the closing stages of the conflict when Gotabaya Rajapaksa effectively ran the security forces and his brother was president.
During the three-month election campaign held in the shadow of extremist attacks in April, Rajapaksa had promised to make his charismatic and popular brother Mahinda his prime minister.
Wickremesinghe came to power in 2015 on a promise to prosecute members of the outgoing Rajapaksa regime who were accused of corruption and even murder but failed to bring any perpetrators to justice.
He ended up facing accusations of cronyism and incompetence and was also implicated in several financial scandals himself.
His government also presided over major security lapses that were blamed for the suicide bombings on three churches and three hotels that killed 269 people on Easter Sunday.
Soon after Wickremesinghe's party lost Saturday's election at least 10 of his senior ministers, including finance minister Mangala Samaraweera, resigned.
The current parliament was elected in August 2015 for a five-year term and cannot be dissolved by Rajapaksa until March, six months before its term ends.
However, legislators through a majority resolution could ask for a snap poll.
Rajapaksa's party does not enjoy a majority in the 225-member assembly and must depend on Wickremesinghe's United National Party to form a minority government until the next parliamentary election.