Published: Sat, October 27, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Sri Lankan President prorogues parliament till Nov 16 amid political crisis

Sri Lankan President prorogues parliament till Nov 16 amid political crisis

"The president has prorogued the Parliament with effect from 12 noon on Saturday", said Cabinet spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne. Wickremesinghe had earlier demanded an emergency session to prove he still commanded a majority.

The ruling coalition had been further strained in recent days by strong criticism from Sirisena and his allies that ministers from Wickremesinghe's party did not act properly in investigating an alleged assassination plot to kill the president and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the new prime minister's younger brother.

Ranil Wickremesinghe said he had a majority in 225-member legislature and his sacking was illegal.

Speaking to jubilant supporters outside his Colombo home late on Friday, Rajapakse also called on Wickremesinghe to step down.

Colombo: Newly appointed Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, center, leaves a Buddhist temple after meeting his supporters in Colombo.

Visuals of the former president Rajapaksa taking oath as the premier were released to media and was shown on TV channels.

"Plus the collapse of our economy, collapse of good governance, the anti-democratic measures of the present Prime Minister and his government has brought this country to a virtual anarchy and catastrophe", he said.

Rajapakse lost the presidency in January 2015 and the subsequent parliamentary elections in August 2015.

Sirisena won elections against Rajapakse in 2015 on a platform of economic reform and accountability for atrocities committed during his opponent's 10-year iron-fisted rule which saw the bloody end of Sri Lanka's brutal civil war.

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A gazette has also been issued stating Ranil Wickremesinghe has been removed from the Post of Prime Minister as per powers vested with the President.

It promised the United Nations it would investigate allegations of rights abuses during the civil war but has been criticised for a lack of progress in the years since.

His regime refused to acknowledge war-era abuses, and bitter divisions between minority Tamils and majority Sinhalese persist.

Several members of Rajapaksa's family - former Cabinet members and government officials - are facing charges of corruption and a special high court has been set up to hear the cases quickly.

The United States called on all sides to abide by Sri Lanka's constitution and refrain from violence.

"The appointment of Rajapakse as the prime minister is unconstitutional and illegal".

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.

In April 2017, hours before Mr. Wickremesinghe headed to India to announce a number of agreements including on the Trinco oil tank farms, Mr. Sirisena held back the agreements, and only a broad "MoU on economic cooperation could be signed".

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