Ranil Wickremesinghe has asserted that he is the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and that Mahinda Rajapaksa's elevation is 'illegal, unconstitutional' (Image source: Twitter)
Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena suspended the parliament till November 16 after sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe sought an emergency session to prove his majority, deepening the political crisis in Sri Lanka.
Sirisena's move is seen as an effort to allow former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa to buy more time to seek majority in the parliament. Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine has only 95 seats and is short of a simple majority in the 225-member house. Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) has 106 seats on its own with just seven short of the majority.
Wickremesinghe, who belongs to the United National Party (UNP), quoted the 19th amendment to the constitution and stressed he will continue to serve the country as Prime Minister. “I will continue to be the Prime Minister. Mahinda Rajapaksa's appointment is unconstitutional. Only I have the majority. The only way that can be changed is through a no confidence motion or if I resign,” Wickremesinghe had earlier told PTI.
The Colombo Gazette reported that hours after Sirisena dismissed Wickremesinghe, the President issued a notice on the appointment of Rajapaska as the new premier. Rajapaksa took oath at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo on Friday and following the ceremony, Sirisena wrote to Wickremesinghe saying he had been removed.
The sudden development came amid growing tensions between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe on several policy matters and the President has been critical of the Prime Minister and his policies, especially on economy and security.
In April, Wickremesinghe successfully defeated a no trust motion in Parliament engineered by Sirisena with backing from Rajapaksa.
The UNP, however, suffered one defection after Rajapaksa was sworn in with Ananda Aluthgamage meeting the former president and extending him support.
The political developments unfolded after Sirisena's broader political front United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) announced that it has decided to quit the current unity government with Wickremesinghe's UNP.