Sri Lanka reinstates ousted prime minister Wickremesinghe

April FrancisDec 17, 2018

Sri Lanka's ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn into office again, two months after being removed by the president.

Rajapaksa resigned after two crucial Supreme Court decisions made the embattled former strongman's efforts to cling to premiership untenable.

Maithripala Sirisena administered the oath to Wickremesinghe, almost two months after firing him and setting off a long political stalemate in the South Asian island nation.

After winning the election, he formed a government with Wickremesinghe as prime minister, but the two leaders started to have differences over economic policy and the investigations of alleged wartime abuses.

Wickremesinghe said 29 October that his controversial sacking left Sri Lanka in a power vacuum and demanded that parliament be allowed to end a standoff with the president.

Sri Lanka PM Ranil Wickremesinghe greets Buddhist monks after assuming duties in Colombo. When Sirisena's decision was contested, he dissolved Parliament and called for a snap parliamentary election in January.

Parliament has already passed a confidence vote in Wickremesinghe while it sought his reinstatement as prime minister to defuse a constitutional crisis.

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Wickremesinghe, who has never completed a full term as prime minister, was appointed for the post for the fifth time.

Mahinda Rajapaksa's son Namal Rajapaksa on Friday tweeted that his father would resign as the prime minister of Sri Lanka.

Mr Sirisena then named Mr Rajapaksa the new premier, but Parliament twice rejected the appointment.

"The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna with former President, Sri Lanka Freedom Party and others will now work to form a broader political coalition with President Maithripala Sirisena", he said in a Twitter post.

There was no immediate comment from Sirisena or his office, but an MP from his party, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, told reporters that the president agreed to the latest measures to avoid a government shutdown after December 31. He said since a general election can no longer be held, the UPFA cannot implement any of the measures they had planned to take "to prevent the country from becoming another Greece".

In an address to the nation on Saturday, he said a president could not "stand by and do nothing when the whole country was facing destruction at the hands of the people running the government" and said the previous government had taken billions of dollars in foreign loans. The global credit rating agencies - the Fitch, the Standard & Poor's and the Moody's - had also downgraded Sri Lanka's rating owing to the current political crisis.

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