Sri Lanka's former PM Wickremesinghe to return to post today

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 16, 2018, 09.55 AM(IST)

File photo of Sri Lanka Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The South Asian island country plunged into instability in October after President Maithripala Sirisena replaced Wickremesinghe with Rajapaksa, who was then twice sacked by parliament. 

A day after Mahinda Rajapaksa officially resigned amid the fear of government shutdown, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will return to his post today; news agency Reuters reported.

"He (Wickremesinghe) will take oath at an auspicious time today morning," Reuters quoted Rajitha Senaratne, a cabinet spokesman under Wickremesinghe's former government as saying.

The report also cited an official at the president's office confirming Wickremesinghe's oath-taking.
 
The South Asian island country plunged into instability in October after President Maithripala Sirisena replaced Wickremesinghe with Rajapaksa, who was then twice sacked by parliament. 

But as a government shutdown loomed, Rajapaksa put in his papers and said in a statement on Saturday that a change of government that "the people expected" has now been put off.

"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," Rajapaksa said in the statement.

Wickremesinghe's office on Friday said that Sirisena had called the former prime minister by telephone to invite him to be sworn back into office on Sunday.

Sirisena had previously said he would not appoint Wickremesinghe "even if he has the backing of all 225 lawmakers in parliament".

The country's parliament had voted to cut the budget for Rajapaksa and his ministers after Sirisena had refused to accept no-confidence votes against Rajapaksa saying that due procedure was not followed.

The country's Supreme Court on Friday rejected Rajapaksa's bid for an injunction on a lower court's order that barred him and his cabinet from carrying out their roles in government.

Many foreign countries have refused to recognise Rajapaksa's government. Credit rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor's have downgraded Sri Lanka, citing refinancing risks and an uncertain policy outlook.

Earlier this week, the island nation's parliament passed a vote of confidence in favour of Wickremesinghe, as it sought his reinstatement as prime minister by the president to defuse the political crisis.

(With inputs from news agencies)