Former Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa becomes new PM amid political drama

27 October, 2018, 16:16 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Mahinda Rajapaksa sworn in as Sri Lanka's Prime Minister

Wickremesinghe, who had been sacked by President Maithripala Sirisena has termed the move as "unconstitutional" and vowed to prove his majority in Parliament.

Sri Lanka's former president Mahinda Rajapakse beams as he arrives at a temple after having been sworn in as prime minister in Colombo.

An Indian man whom authorities identified as M Thomas was arrested at Kumara's house on suspicion of involvement in the plot.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister and UNP legislator Mangala Samaraweera called the appointment of Rajapaksa "unconstitutional", while another cabinet Minister said UNP would challenge the move in court.

Rajapaksa's return to power ends a more than three-year-old coalition government that was formed by Sirisena and Wickremesinghe on a promise to combat corruption and financial irregularities.

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Rajapaksa and Sirisena combined have only 95 seats and is short of a simple majority.

Wickremesinghe had helped Sirisena defeat Rajapakse in the 2015 elections but has drifted apart from the president since.

The unity government was formed in 2015 when Sirisena was elected President with Wickremesinghe's support, ending a almost decade-long rule by Rajapaksa.

Parliamentary sources said the speaker would have to decide if he recognises Rajapakse as the new premier following Wickremesinghe's claim that he remained the constitutionally elected prime minister. Since then, party rivalries have been simmering within the government.

A private television network loyal to Rajapakse televised him being sworn in as the new Prime Minister, replacing Wickremesinghe. They resumed broadcasting Saturday and were supporting Rajapakse.

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Some 200 supporters, some carrying photographs of him, gathered outside Rajapaksa's home late on Friday to congratulate him.

"We expect economic development and a good future for our children", he said.

"We expect the government of Sri Lanka to uphold its Geneva commitments to human rights, reform, accountability, justice and reconciliation".

There was no immediate reaction from India which has long seen Sri Lanka, located just off its southern tip, as part of its area of influence and had been concerned about Rajapaksa's wooing of China. However the swearing in of Rajapaksa could be legalised by passing a no-confidence motion in parliament against Mr Wickremesinghe.

The main allegation against Wickremesinghe involved his appointment of a Singaporean as the central bank governor who is now accused of leaking inside information to benefit his son-in-law in a treasury bond sale.

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