Published: Sat, October 27, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Ousted Sri Lanka Prime Minister Seeks Emergency Parliament Session

Ousted Sri Lanka Prime Minister Seeks Emergency Parliament Session

The swearing-in ceremony, broadcast live, was a moment of high political drama for Sri Lanka, with Rajapaksa grinning as he shook Sirisena's hand.

Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse, left, is sworn is as prime minister by President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo, after incumbent premier Ranil Wickremesinghe was sacked.

Hours after sacking his former ally, President Maithripala Sirisena issued gazettes formalising the dramatic move, and the installation of Rajapakse as the new prime minister.

Mahinda Amaraweera, agriculture minister and the general secretary of the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), told reporters that the UPFA decision has been conveyed to Parliament.

"So there is a new government which the president has to form immediately by calling the person who enjoys the majority of members support in parliament and that is Mahinda Rajapaksa, who not only today has support of parliamentary members but the overwhelming support of the people of our country", he said. He held the Prime Minister portfolio from April 6, 2004 until he became the President of the country in 2005.

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.

Members of his party must "respect democracy, respect the country and respect the law", the former president said through a loudhailer from a balcony.

Rajapakse, 72, is a controversial figure at home and overseas but has pushed for a return to frontline politics since he lost a presidential election to Sirisena in 2015. Sirisena, who was Rajapaksa's minister of health, broke away from him to contest the presidential elections.

The speaker said he was seeking legal advice and would announce Saturday if he recognises Rajapakse as the new prime minister.

Despite some key democratic reforms, the new government failed to punish alleged criminals in the Rajapaksa government - the key promise on which it came to power - stem corruption within its own ranks and deliver on the economic front.

This is the second time that a president has ousted Wickremesinghe from office.

Despite being cold shouldered by the West, he is a charismatic leader hugely popular among the majority Sinhalese community for crushing the Tamil Tiger rebels who were known for their trade mark suicide bombings.

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

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

Wickremesinghe had survived a no-confidence vote backed by Sirisena earlier this year.

His government also pledged justice for those accused of committing atrocities in Sri Lanka's civil war during Rajapaksa's rule. Rajapaksa and his family are facing several cases of corruption and financial irregularities.

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