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Sri Lankan President reinstates ousted PM Ranil Wickremesinghe

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has reappointed Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister of the country, after suddenly dismissing him from the post nearly two months ago. The President clarified that his move to terminate the Prime Minister was done in "good faith" and the reinstatement was done to uphold parliamentary traditions and democracy.

Dec 17, 2018 18:45 IST
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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on December 16, 2018 reappointed Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister of the country, after suddenly dismissing him from the post nearly two months ago.

The President clarified that his move to terminate the Prime Minister was done in "good faith" and the reinstatement was done to uphold parliamentary traditions and democracy. A new cabinet comprising 30 lawmakers is also expected to be sworn in soon.

The Events: As they happened!

October 26: President Maithripala Sirisena announced the dismissal of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe through a live television address.

The President announced that Ranil Wickremesinghe, with whom he had governed in a fragile coalition since 2015, had been dismissed and in his place, he had decided to appoint former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, the same man he had joined forces with Wickremasinghe in 2015 to defeat.

Despite warnings of a possible breakout of extreme violence, President Sirisena suspended Parliament to give Rajapaksa time to muster enough support to survive any no-confidence vote.

October 29: 12 Cabinet ministers including one state minister and deputy minister were sworn in.

The decision created a wedge in the country’s politics with parliamentarians showing more favour towards Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who termed the sacking as illegal and stood his ground despite attempts to replace him with Rajapaksa.

November 9: The President dissolved the Parliament and called for fresh elections on January 5 amid a deepening political crisis.

December 13: Sri Lanka's Supreme Court ruled unanimously that President Maithripala Sirisena's order to dissolve Parliament and hold new elections was unconstitutional.

The seven-member judge bench in a unanimous verdict observed that it was illegal to dissolve Parliament before its four and half year term limit.

December 15: Following the top court's verdict, Rajapaksa gave his resignation, paving the way for the return of 69-year-old Wickremesinghe.

Background

Sri Lanka, one of Asia’s oldest democracies plunged into a huge constitutional crisis when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was suddenly ousted from his post by President Maithripala Sirisena and replaced with Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The entire development had left Sri Lanka with two Prime Ministers, as even though Rajapaksa took control of the prime ministerial office and started naming a new cabinet, Wickremesinghe continued to occupy his official residence.

It also created a huge divide among the parliamentarians, as the move countered the promises made by President to investigate Rajapaksa-led government’s actions during the country’s long civil war.

Rajapaksa oversaw the end of the 27-year Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 through a series of brutal military offensives in which up to 40,000 Tamil civilians died.

During his 10 years in power, Rajapaksa’s government was accused of authoritarianism, corruption and human rights abuses, especially against the country’s Tamil minority.

His tenure was also marred by accusations his security forces were forcibly disappearing, torturing and murdering opposition politicians, aid workers, activists, journalists and dissidents.

Sri Lankan Political Crisis: Everything you need to know!

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