Lead Actor

Sri Lankas new prime minister, Mahinda Rajapakse, is a part-time film star but his new role requires a major balancing act to keep a minority government from collapsing in a hung parliament.rn
His swearing in ceremony Tuesday saw him performing his first “official act” as he smiled for the cameras after being given the post despite leftists within President Chandrika Kumaratungas coalition bitterly opposing his appointment.rn

rn “He had to fight his way in here,” a senior aide said as Rajapakse, his wife and three sons waited at the presidents office for the hurriedly-summoned swearing-in ceremony.rn

rn Analysts said Kumaratungas leftist ally, the JVP, is opposed to Rajapakse partly because he appeals to the same rural constituency it represents.rn

rn Rajapakse has had an uneasy relationship with party leader Kumaratunga but has remained highly loyal to the party.rn

rn Widely seen as a moderate who supports a negotiated settlement to the islands long-running ethnic conflict, Rajapakse w