Sri Lanka President sacks Prime Minister

Hannah Rogers
October 27, 2018

Ranil Wickremesinghe said he had a majority in 225-member legislature and his sacking was illegal. "I write to inform you that I am the constitutionally appointed Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and continue in that office and that I command the confidence of Parliament as contemplated in article 42 (4) of the constitution", he said in letter.

Peiris said parliament has been suspended to allow time for Rajapaksa as the new prime minster to present a vote of account in parliament instead of the 2019 budget scheduled for November 5.

In a dramatic turn of events, President Maithripala Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party withdrew from the ruling coalition and then sacked Wickremesinghe.

Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse, left, is sworn is as prime minister by President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo, after incumbent premier Ranil Wickremesinghe was sacked.

A private TV channel loyal to Rajapakse, Sirisena's former foe, broadcast a rushed swearing-in ceremony of Rajapaksa taking oath as the PM, replacing Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The sudden political development ends an over three-year-old coalition government that was formed by Sirisena and Wickremesinghe on a promise to combat corruption and financial irregularities.

In a statement, Parliamentary Speaker Karu Jayasuriya called for calm and restraint and for the crisis to be resolved quickly.

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Wickremesinghe insisted he was still the legitimate prime minister and would fight his dismissal in court.

Since his rushed swearing in, Rajapakse is yet to announce the formation of a Cabinet - which under the Constitution is automatically dissolved when a prime minister is removed.

Members of his party must "respect democracy, respect the country and respect the law", the former president said through a loudhailer from a balcony. He held the Prime Minister portfolio from April 6, 2004 until he became the President of the country in 2005.

It was not immediately clear whether either of the alleged plots were connected to Sirisena's ouster of Wickremesinghe, which ended an uneasy coalition government formed by their two bitterly opposed political parties on a pledge to tackle corruption.

Local television pictures had shown Rajapaksa, who last month led opposition protests against the government, being sworn in before Sirisena, surrounded by a number of opposition legislators.

The crisis will be prolonged if Rajapaksa can not swiftly demonstrate his command of parliament.

The surprise move comes despite past clashes between both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe over economic policy as well as the day-to-day administration of the government.

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