Sri Lankan president reinstates sacked prime minister


Sri Lankan president reinstates sacked prime minister

K. Ratnayake

17 December 2018

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena swore in Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister yesterday, after having unconstitutionally sacked him seven weeks ago in what amounted to a political coup. The decision is a major setback for Sirisena who had repeatedly insisted that he could not work with Wickremesinghe and would never reappoint him.

Contrary to the claims of the Colombo media, the decision to reinstate Wickremesinghe will not end the political crisis but is just a temporary pause in the ongoing conflict within Sri Lanka’s ruling elite.

After removing Wickremesinghe on October 26, Sirisena appointed former president Mahinda Rajapakse as prime minister and then swore in a new cabinet, declaring it to be the government. The decision brought to the surface a bitter war between two factions of the ruling elite—one headed by Sirisena and Rajapakse, and the other by Wickremesinghe.

After sacking Wickremesinghe, Sirisena prorogued parliament until November 14 to enable Rajapakse to secure a parliamentary majority via bullying and bribery. When Rajapakse failed to get the numbers, Sirisena dissolved the parliament and called a new general election.

Sirisena’s anti-democratic manoeuvre was temporarily halted by the Supreme Court in response to petitions from Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) and its allies, which included the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).

Sirisena ignored two consecutive parliamentary no-confidence motions passed against Rajapakse. However, on December 3, a Colombo appeal court issued a temporary restraining order against Rajapakse and his cabinet from exercising ministerial powers, effectively leaving the country…

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