Lankan court restrains PM Rajapaksa, cabinet from functioning

File photo of Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena with Mahinda Rajapaksa. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team Colombo, Sri Lanka Dec 03, 2018, 04.05 PM (IST)

A Sri Lankan court today denied Mahinda Rajapakse authority to act as the prime minister.

The court suspended Rajapakse's power and said it could not function till until its legitimacy was established.

The Lankan Court of Appeal's (CA) conclusion came after it looked at all submissions in the writ petition against PM Mahinda Rajapaksa holding office of prime minister.

The CA said "irreparable damage" could be done to Sri Lanka if Rajapakse was allowed to remain as head of government.

The petitioners had sought a writ asking  Rajapaksa to give reasons why he should remain in office despite losing the no-confidence vote. The petition was signed by 122 legislators who have challenged Rajapaksa's authority to hold office

Rajakasa has lost the vote of confidence twice, however, the country's president Maithripala Sirisena backed the current prime minister. A fortnight ago the vote of confidence took place amid confusion as lawmakers threw bottles and furniture to prevent the Speaker from holding the vote.

President Sirisena had last month removed and replaced Wickremesinghe with Rajapaksa as prime minister plunging the country into political turmoil. 

Wickremesinghe's party meanwhile has said it was ready for the "floor test" to prove its majority. Wickremesinghe had refused to vacate the official prime minister's residence saying he was the prime minister and had a parliamentary majority.

Speaker Jayasuriya had said that the country was "politically rudderless" with no functioning prime minister or cabinet. The political upheaval has hit the country's economy as its the currency fell last week.

The Lankan rupee dropped to a fresh record low of 176.30 against the dollar last week, the rupee has lost 14 per cent of its value this year.

The country's economic growth is likely to remain subdued and below the envisaged levels in 2018, the central bank said.

President Maithripala Sirisena had dissolved parliament last month and instituted Rajakasa as prime minister. The president had also called for general election for January 5th, a move which was rejected by the country's Supreme Court.

Sirisena's announcement was criticised by the world community with the US issuing a statement saying it was "deeply concerned at the further deepening the political crisis" 

European Union's foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini had said that the the move "risks undermining public confidence in the country’s democratic institutions and processes and further deepens the political and economic crisis in the country."