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Sri Lanka: PM Mahinda Rajapaksa resigns, Wickremesinghe to be reinstated

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Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was appointed as prime minister of Sri Lanka by President Maithripala Sirisena in a controversial move, resigned on Saturday and Ranil Wickremesinghe is likely to take oath as the island nation’s prime minister tomorrow.

Ending the power tussle in Sri Lanka, Mr Rajapaksa resigned after two crucial Supreme Court decisions made the embattled former strongman’s efforts to cling to premiership untenable.

Shehan Semasinghe, who is a pro-Rajapaksa lawmaker, told reporters that the former president signed his resignation letter in a ceremony held in his house in Wijerama in Colombo.

Semasinghe said, “(Mahinda) Rajapaksa informed the lawmakers of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) that he has resigned from the post.”

TO be noted, Rajapaksa was appointed as prime minister on October 26 by President Sirisena in a controversial move after sacking Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, which plunged the country into an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

On Thursday, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court, unanimously declared that the dissolution of the Parliament by President Sirisena was ‘illegal’.

Apparently, on Friday, the apex court refused to stay a court order restraining Rajapaksa from holding the office of prime minister until it fully heard the case next month.

Meanwhile, Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) on Saturday said that President Sirisena has agreed to reinstate him in the post after a discussion with him over the phone on Friday.

Akila Viraj Kariyawasam- UNP general secretary said, “We have heard from the presidential secretariat that our leader will be sworn in as the prime minister tomorrow morning.”

On October 26, this ear, the unprecedented political and constitutional stand off began with the sacking of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe appears to end tomorrow with his reinstatement.

On Friday, parliamentarian Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had ruled Sri Lanka for nearly a decade, decided to step down ‘in the best interest of the country’.

Abeywardena claimed that Rajapaksa can hold office without resigning but that will only further drag the political turmoil in the country. Thus, the former president decided to step down after the court ruling given on Friday and on Thursday.

On Friday, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court decided that a Court of Appeal order issued against the appointment of Mr Rajapaksa as prime minister and against his Cabinet from holding office will stand.

The appeal filed by 73-year-old Rajapaksa will be taken up for hearing on January 16, 17 and 18.

The apex court asked all parties to provide written submissions within three weeks.

A new Cabinet will be sworn in on Monday, according to reports. Apparently, the Cabinet will consist of 30 members and include six Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) parliamentarians.

Notably, Most of the countries across the world had not recognised Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government. Even, the global credit rating agencies — the Fitch, the Standard & Poor’s and the Moody’s — had also downgraded Sri Lanka’s rating owing to the current political crisis.

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