Colombo: Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been sworn-in as the Sri Lankan Prime Minister before President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday after much political drama. President Sirisena sacked premier Ranil Wickremesinghe who termed the move as “unconstitutional” and vowed to prove his majority in Parliament.
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.
United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera while speaking to Ada Derana, said that the Speaker of Parliament has been notified of the decision in writing.
As reported by Sri Lankan media, Rajapaksa replaced Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Rajapaksa being sworn-in as the Prime Minister announcement comes just minutes after the UPFA decided to withdraw from the unity government. For the unversed, President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the main constituent party of the UPFA, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) had formed a unity government in August 2015 following the general election.
It must be noted that the coalition of both UPFA and UNA had become strenuous in the recent months. The coalition partners suffered heavy defeats in local elections in February and Sirisena loyalists backed a no-confidence motion in April against the prime minister.
Meanwhile, it was also reported that the life of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa is under threat, following an alleged plot to assassinate President Maithripala Sirisena and Rajapaksa’s brother. Sri Lanka’s Parliament told the same on Friday.
Dinesh Gunawardena, leader of the joint opposition said, “I have to inform the house that despite instructions to increase the personal security of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa due to threats on his life we have seen no such action. We urge immediate action.”
Meanwhile, reacting sharply to his sacking, Wickremesinghe asserted that the swearing in of Rajapaksa in his place is “illegal and unconstitutional” and he will prove his majority in Parliament. “I will continue to be the Prime Minister. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s appointment is unconstitutional,” he said.
Similarly, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera tweeted that “the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister is unconstitutional and illegal. This is an anti-democratic coup”.