Former Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa becomes new PM amid political drama

Former Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa becomes new PM amid political drama

Former Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa becomes new PM amid political drama

The parliament had been due to meet again on November 5 to unveil the 2019 annual budget.

But questions remain over the legality of the move, as a constitutional amendment passed in 2015 had taken away the president's power to sack the prime minister.

The aide, Mahinda Amaraweera, said Rajapaksa has the majority needed in the 225-member Parliament to run a stable government.

Sri Lanka was plunged in a constitutional crisis after Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe and gave the job to former strongman leader Rajapakse, who was sworn in on Friday night.

Wickremasinghe was aware of it and in a strong statement made after the development, he said he was still the prime minister of Sri Lanka and termed Rajapaksa's appointment as "unconstitutional".

The president's United People's Freedom Alliance party had earlier Friday quit the coalition that had governed with Wickremesinghe's party.

Speaking to reporters Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe siad he was still prime minister and pledged to show his majority in parliament soon. He said when the cabinet stands dissolved the prime minister will have to be either removed or resign himself. He said the crisis could be resolved with no difficulty if the parliament was convened.

The prime minister's secretary has been removed according to the powers vested with the president as the appointing authority.

Rajapaksa later said "the people" had requested his party take over the government and called on Wickremesinghe's supporters to respect democracy and the rule of law.

In April 2017, hours before Mr. Wickremesinghe headed to India to announce a number of agreements including on the Trinco oil tank farms, Mr. Sirisena held back the agreements, and only a broad "MoU on economic cooperation could be signed".

Rajapakse was sworn in by Sirisena in a ceremony at the president's office before the smiling ex-president headed to worship at a Buddhist temple.

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).

There was no immediate reaction from India which has long seen Sri Lanka, located just off its southern tip, as part of its area of influence and had been concerned about Rajapaksa's wooing of China.

The UNP and UPFA, an alliance of several political parties, consolidated their coalition after a parliamentary election in August 2015.

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