Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena last evening sacked his Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed former president Mahinda Rajapakse as the new premier in a dramatic political development on Friday after his party abruptly quit the ruling coalition. The validity of the swearing-in remains unclear.
A private TV channel loyal to Rajapakse, Sirisena’s former foe, broadcast a rushed swearing-in ceremony of Rajapaksa taking oath as the PM, replacing Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The sudden development came after Sirisena’s broader political front United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) announced that it has decided to quit the current unity government with prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP).
The unity government was formed in 2015 when Sirisena (leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party -SLFP) was elected President with Wickremesinghe’s support, ending a nearly decade-long rule by Rajapaksa.
But questions remain over the legality of the move, as a constitutional amendment passed in 2015 had taken away the president’s power to sack the prime minister.