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Mahinda Rajapaksa becomes new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka amid political drama

27 October 2018

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday suspended parliament till November 16 after sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe sought an emergency session to prove his majority, deepening the political crisis in the island nation.

Rajapaksa's appointment could be deemed unconstitutional as the uprooted prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is yet to formally resign. He also said it was an "anti-democratic coup". "I remain as prime minister and I will function as the prime minister".

He said that the issue should be resolved peacefully and there should not be a crisis in the country.

The United States called on all sides in Sri Lanka to operate within the constitution and refrain from violence.

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New Delhi and the Ministry of External Affairs chose not to jump the gun on developments in the Sri Lankan capital, allowing them to play out their hand, especially given the fact that two separate Prime Ministers now lay claim to the official residence at Temple Trees. In a telephonic conversation with a TV station, Wickremesinghe said "I will continue to be the Prime Minister".

It is clear that the serving prime minister has not ceased to hold office in any one of these ways. The president seems to have taken these words rather too literally than is constitutionally permissible.

Sirisena, who was Rajapaksa's minister of health, broke away from him to contest the presidential elections. This is usually, although not always, the leader of the largest party represented in parliament.

Wickremesinghe insisted he was still the legitimate prime minister and that he had no intention of leaving his post. First notice was on Wickremesinghe being removed as prime minister and the other on the appointment of Rajapaska as the new premier.

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

The prime minister's secretary has been removed according to the powers vested with the president as the appointing authority. That these procedures have not been followed render the purported presidential acts tonight illegal and unconstitutional.

The sudden development came after Sirisena's broader political front United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) announced that it has chose to quit the current unity government with prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP).

Wickremesinghe's government came to power promising economic reforms and accountability for atrocities committed in Sri Lanka's bloody civil war during Rajapaksa's presidency.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa becomes new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka amid political drama