Former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from the Prime Minister post on Saturday, paving the way for Ranil Wickremesinghe’s return.

End of political crisis Ranil Wickremesinghe reinstated as Sri Lanka Prime MinisterFacebook/Ranil Wickremesinghe
news Politics Sunday, December 16, 2018 - 13:32

Putting an end to the 51-day political crisis in Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe has been reinstated as the Prime Minister of the island nation. The leader of the United National Party was sworn in as the Prime Minister by Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena, at the Presidential Secretariat on Sunday.

This comes after former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Saturday. In an unexpected move, Maithripala Sirisena had sacked Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister on October 26, engendering an overnight constitutional crisis and paralysing the government.

After the swearing-in, Wickremesinghe tweeted, "Today marks a victory not for myself or for the UNP. It is a victory for Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions and the sovereignty of our citizens. I thank everyone who stood firm in defending the constitution and ensuring the triumph of democracy."

On December 13, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka ruled that the President cannot dissolve the Parliament till it completes its four-and-a-half year term, thus rejecting the Sirisena’s attempts to hold snap elections in early January.

In early November, Sirisena had signed an official gazette notification dissolving the 225-member Parliament. However, the United National Party, the Tamil National Alliance and the People’s Liberation Front moved the court against Sirisena’s Gazette. The Supreme Court then stayed two gazettes on November 13 — one dissolving the Parliament, and the other ordering snap polls on January 5. 

The court later said Mahinda Rajapaksa should not exercise the powers of the office and ordered his resignation, seven weeks after he was appointed as the Prime Minister. 

The former strongman’s son, Namal Rajapaksa, said his father had quit to ensure national stability. “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.

Rajapaksa signed his resignation letter at his official residence in the capital on Saturday, paving the way for Wickremasinghe’s return. United National Party's spokesman Harin Fernando had told the BBC that this would end the political deadlock, referring to the "huge damage" the island nation and its economy had suffered since the crisis began 51 days ago.

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