Sri Lanka's constitutional crisis: A timeline of events

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 27, 2018, 01.32 PM(IST)

Mahinda Rajapaksa. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as prime minister on Friday (October 26) after President Maithripala Sirisena sacked the incumbent, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as prime minister on Friday (October 26) after President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in a shock move that threatens political turmoil in the country. 

Wickremesinghe said the move was "unconstitutional" and vowed to prove his majority in Parliament. On Saturday, he demanded an emergency session of parliament, so as to be able to prove his majority on the floor of the house.

Sirisena however responded by suspending parliament till November 16. 

Here is a timeline of the events leading up to the constitutional crisis: 

- Presidential elections were held in Sri Lanka on 8 January 2015, two years ahead of schedule.

- Then incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the United People's Freedom Alliance's candidate, seeking a third term in office.

- The United National Party (UNP)-led opposition coalition chose to field Maithripala Sirisena, the former Minister of Health in Rajapaksa's government and general secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) – the main constituent party of the UPFA – as its common candidate.

- Sirisena was declared the winner after receiving 51.28% of all votes cast (6,217,162 votes) compared to Rajapaksa's 47.58% (5,768,090 votes).

- On 9th January, Rajapaksa concedes defeat ahead of the final result and the Sirsena was sworn in as Sri Lanka's sixth executive president, before Supreme Court judge K. Sripavan in Independence Square, Colombo.

- The 2015 Sri Lankan parliamentary election was held on 17 August 2015, ten months ahead of schedule, to elect 225 members to Sri Lanka's 15th Parliament.

- The incumbent United National Party (UNP) led United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) won 106 seats, an increase of 46 since the 2010 election, but failed to secure a majority in Parliament.

- The main opposition United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won 95 seats, a decline of 49.

- The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the largest party representing Sri Lankan Tamils, won 16 seats, an increase of two from 2010.

- The remaining eight seats were won by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (6), Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (1) and Eelam People's Democratic Party (1).

- Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, leader of the UNFGG and UNP, was able to form a national government with the support of UPFA MPs loyal to President Maithripala Sirisena.

- The rift between the President and the Prime Minister started with treasury bond scandal in 2015.

- Faced with repayments on the massive loans inherited from the previous government, the Central Bank decided to raise Rs. 1 billion through an auction on February 27, 2015.

- The bank received just over Rs. 20 billion in bids and former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran instructed the Public Debt Department to accept Rs. 10 billion.

- Due to a communication gap, the Perpetual Treasuries Limited, a Primary Dealer owned by the son in law of the Central Bank Governor have had undue advantage to make profits. This was the starting of the rift between the President and the Prime Minister Wickeremesinghe.

- The last tipping point of the relation ship between the two leaders was the alleged conspiracy to assassinate President Srisena and former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, which is now under investigation