Updated: December 15, 2018 12:52:29 pm
Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Saturday, putting an end to the nearly two-month power tussle in the island nation. Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was removed from the post on October 26 this year, will take oath as the Prime Minister again on Sunday, according to a report in The Colombo Post.
Rajapaksa’s resignation came a day after the country’s Supreme Court Friday refused to stay a court order restraining the embattled former strongman from holding the office until it fully heard the case next month. The Court had separately ruled Thursday that the dissolution of Parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena was “illegal”.
Rajapakse’s controversial appointment on October 26 had plunged the island nation into political turmoil.
Sirisena has repeatedly rejected appeals to reappoint Wickremesinghe as prime minister, but may now be compelled to do so since Wickremesinghe has the support of 117 lawmakers in Parliament. Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) said that it was decided during the discussion that he will take oath as the Prime Minister at 10 am on Sunday.
The Supreme Court decided that a Court of Appeal order issued against the appointment of Rajapaksa as Prime Minister and against his Cabinet from holding office will stand.
An appeal filed by Rajapaksa will be taken up for hearing on January 16, 17 and 18.
Wickremesinghe refused to accept the sacking and challenged it in a court and in the Parliament.
Lawmaker Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, Rajapakse’s aide, had said that Rajapaksa met President Maithripala Sirisena Friday, and decided to allow him to appoint a new government. Sri Lanka has had no functioning government for nearly two weeks and is facing the prospect of being unable to pass a budget for next year. “Unless the prime minister resigns, another prime minister cannot be appointed. But the country needs to face situations that it needs to face in January; a country cannot function without a budget,” AP quoted Abeywardena as saying.
Rajapaksa is a former strongman president who is considered by some as a war hero for defeating the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 after a long civil war. But he lst a 2015 re-election bid amid allegations of wartime atrocities, corruption and nepotism. After his appointment as prime minister, he sought to secure a majority in the 225-member Parliament but failed. Sirisena then dissolved Parliament and called new elections, but the Supreme Court struck down that move as unconstitutional.
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