Rajapaksa's resignation is likely to bring to an end a nearly two-month-long power struggle and will pave way for a new government to be established under President Maithripala Sirisena.

Mahinda Rajapaksa steps down as Sri Lankas PM Wickremesinghe to return to office
news International Saturday, December 15, 2018 - 14:31

Sri Lanka's disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Saturday, seven weeks after he was appointed to the post in a surprise move that sparked a political crisis in the island nation. The former strongman signed his resignation letter, surrounded by his party members at his official residence in the capital, television footage showed. 

Rajapaksa's resignation is likely to bring to an end a nearly two-month-long power struggle and will pave way for a new government to be established under President Maithripala Sirisena. Wickremesinghe is now expected to return to office on Sunday. "The President has agreed to swear in Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister tomorrow at 10 am," his United National Party's spokesman Harin Fernando told the BBC. Fernando said this would end the political deadlock, remarking that the country and its economy had suffered "huge damage" since the crisis began 50 days ago.’

Rajapaksa's son, Namal, said his father had quit to ensure national stability. "To ensure stability of the nation, former President Rajapaksa has decided to resign from the premiership tomorrow after an address to the nation," Namal Rajapaksa said in a tweet. "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 added.

The news comes after the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that Rajapaksa should not exercise the powers of the office he has claimed since October 26. It also ruled as "unconstitutional" Sirisena's decision to dissolve Parliament and conduct a snap parliamentary election in early January.

Sri Lanka plunged into political turmoil when Sirisena abruptly sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in late October and replaced him with former strongman Rajapaksa. When Sirisena's decision was contested, he dissolved Parliament and called for a snap parliamentary election in January.

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