Sri Lankan PM Rajapaksa resigns to end crisis

Mahinda Rajapaksa

There was no immediate reaction from President Sirisena, the architect of the current crisis. The Cabinet will consist of 30 members and include six Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) parliamentarians, it said.

Mr Sirisena was once a party ally of Mr Rajapaksa, and served in his government.

On Friday, his legislator son announced Rajapaksha will step down and form a broader coalition with other parties.

His Cabinet will also stand dissolved, Abeywardena was quoted as saying by the Colombo Gazette.

It also ruled as "unconstitutional" Sirisena's decision to dissolve Parliament and conduct a snap parliamentary election in early January.

"Unless the prime minister resigns, another prime minister can not be appointed".

Two of the country's highest courts suspended Rajapaksa till he could prove his legitimacy after he failed two no-confidence motions in the 225-member legislature in mid-November.

The Appeal Court on December 3 issued notice and an interim order against Rajapaksa and his Government, preventing them from acting as Prime Minister, Cabinet and Deputy Ministers.




File image of Mahinda Rajapaksa. AFP.

The announcement came after the country's Supreme Court banned Rajapaksa, 73, and his purported government from exercising the powers of the office they claimed since October.

Mr Rajapaksa said in a statement: "Since I have no intention of remaining as prime minister without a general election being held, and in order to not hamper the president in any way, I will resign from the position of prime minister and make way for the president to form a new government".

Sri Lanka has had no functioning government for almost two weeks and faces the prospect of being unable to pass a budget for next year if a new government is not appointed quickly.

However the relationship between president and prime minister turned sour and Mr Sirisena in October turned on Mr Wickremesinghe, sacking him in favour of Mr Rajapaksa, his old ally-turned-rival-turned-ally.

However, the Supreme Court overturned his decision and halted the preparations for snap polls.

Sri Lanka's disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa greets religious leaders before signing his resignation letter at his residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018.

The UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe will take oath as Prime Minister on Sunday at 10 am, Senior UNP MP Rajitha Senaratne has told BBC Sinhala Service.

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