Sri Lanka in political turmoil after prime minister Wickremesinghe sacked

27 October, 2018, 18:33 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Sri Lanka's president suspends parliament, deepening crisis

The UNP claimed that President Sirisena sought to prorogue the parliament as 72-year-old Rajapaksa did not command a majority in the House.

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday suspended parliament, deepening political turmoil after he sacked the country's prime minister.

Hours after sacking his former ally, President Maithripala Sirisena issued gazettes formalising the dramatic move, and the installation of Rajapakse as the new prime minister.

Members of Wickremesinghe's party must "respect democracy, respect the country and respect the law", the ex-president said through a loudhailer from a balcony.

Speaking to jubilant supporters outside his Colombo home late on Friday, Rajapakse also called on Wickremesinghe to step down. In particular, the president can only appoint another prime minister where the serving prime minister has lost office in any one of these ways. Sri Lanka almost faced economic sanctions from the West over Rajapakse's brutal military crackdown on the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

There was no immediate word from Wickremesinghe, who helped Sirisena win the January 2015 elections against Rajapakse.

But the 19th amendment, added in 2015, says a prime minister can only be removed when he or she ceases to be a member of Parliament - such as for failing to meet criteria to be an elector or candidate, when a vote of no-confidence is passed, or when he or she chooses to resign.

Despite being cold shouldered by the West, he is a charismatic leader hugely popular among the majority Sinhalese community for crushing the Tamil Tiger rebels who were known for their trade mark suicide bombings.

Sri Lanka's president suspends parliament, deepening crisis

The speaker said he was seeking legal advice and would announce Saturday if he recognises Rajapakse as the new prime minister.

Traditionally, Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party has espoused left-of-centre views and opposed economic liberalisation, while Wickremesinghe's United National Party leans right and has championed reforms to open up Sri Lanka's economy.

Rajapaksa's appointment as prime minister is expected to provide relief to them.

The new government launched several investigations into charges Rajapakse and his family siphoned off billions of dollars, but prosecutions were extremely slow.

Rajapaksa's return to power ends a more than three-year-old coalition government that was formed by Sirisena and Wickremesinghe on a promise to combat corruption and financial irregularities.

His government also pledged justice for those accused of committing atrocities in Sri Lanka's civil war during Rajapaksa's rule. A United Nations report found that up to 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians may have been killed in the final months of the war alone.

The previous UPA government never lived down its decision in 2012 to call and congratulate Maldives' Mohamed Waheed, hours after he deposed President Mohamed Nasheed in a coup.


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