Rajapaksa resigns as Lanka PM, Wickremesinghe to assume charge Sunday

File photo of Mahinda Rajapaksa

Colombo: Mahinda Rajapaksa, appointed as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister by President Maithripala Sirisena in a controversial move, resigned today as two crucial Supreme Court decisions made the embattled former strongman’s efforts to cling to premiership untenable.

Rajapaksa informed the lawmakers of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) that he has resigned from the post, MP Shehan Semasinghe told reporters.

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

The Supreme Court Friday refused to stay a court order restraining Rajapaksa, 73, from holding the office of Prime Minister until it fully heard the case next month.

The apex court on Thursday unanimously declared that the dissolution of Parliament by Sirisena was “illegal”.

Pro-Rajapaksa lawmaker, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, had told reporters that Rajapaksa decided at a meeting Friday with President Sirisena to resign to allow the President to appoint a new government.

Wickremesinghe is expected to take oath as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Sunday.

President Sirisena has reportedly agreed to reinstate Wickremesinghe in the post after a discussion with him over the phone Friday.

STORY SO FAR

File photo of Ranil Wickremesinghe

The President removed Wickremesinghe from the post of Prime Minister 26 October and appointed former President Rajapaksa as the Premier, plunging the country into an unprecedented crisis.

Wickremesinghe refused to accept the sacking and challenged it in court and in Parliament.

Rajapaksa’s son Friday announced that the former strongman will resign Saturday, after two crucial Supreme Court decisions made the embattled leader’s efforts to cling to premiership untenable.

The apex court Friday refused to stay a court order restraining Rajapaksa, 73, from holding the office of Prime Minister until it fully heard the case next month.

‘To ensure stability of the nation, Former President @PresRajapaksa has decided to resign from the Premiership tomorrow after an address to the nation,’ Rajapaksa’s son Namal tweeted.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) with former president, SLFP and others will “now work to form a broader political coalition with President Sirisena”, Namal, a lawmaker, added.

The apex court’s Friday ruling came a day after it unanimously declared that the dissolution of Parliament by President Sirisena was “illegal”‘.

CABINET AFFAIRS

While Ranil will assume charge Sunday, reports from the island nation stated that a new Cabinet will be sworn in Monday. The Cabinet will consist of 30 members and include six Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) parliamentarians, they said.