Sri Lankan Petroleum Minister and former cricketer Arjuna Ranatunga arrested
Sri Lankan Petroleum Minister and former cricketer Arjuna Ranatunga was arrested on Monday after his bodyguards opened fire on protesters on Sunday, killing one person.
The constitutonal crisis in Sri Lanka worsened on Sunday when bodyguards of 54-year-old Ranatunga, a loyalist of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, fired live rounds at the supporters of the new premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, leaving one person dead and two injured.
The incident took place when Ranatunga visited the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) office, with several its workers objecting to his presence at the office. When Ranatunga entered the building the supporters of the Rajapaksa took exception to him visiting the office and shouted slogans. When they were not allowed to move out, shots were fired which injured three persons.
It was the first report of serious violence since Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe on Friday and installed former strongman Rajapakse as the new prime minister, triggering political chaos.
The guard was arrested and an investigation launched. Ranatunga was safe but the security guard's motive was not immediately clear.
The shift of power came after Sirisena's broader political front United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) announced that it has decided to quit the current unity government with prime minister Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP). This led to Sirisena appointing Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister, replacing Wickremesinghe, which follows a semi-presidential mode of government.
President Maithripala Sirisena's party put an end to the coalition after tensions surfaced between him and Wickremesinghe.
“The swearing in of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister is “illegal and unconstitutional”, Wickremesinghe had said.
“I will continue to be the Prime Minister. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s appointment is unconstitutional,” he added.