Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena said he had sworn in ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister and while his former coalition partner Ranil Wickremesinghe insisted he was still in office, throwing the country into a constitutional crisis.
President Sirisena said a letter had been delivered to Wickremesinghe saying he had been removed with immediate effect, as he was the person who appointed him under Article 42 (4).
Wickremesinghe had written back saying under Article 46 he is still the constitutionally appointed Prime Minister.
Wickremesinghe told media he was still in office and only parliament can decide whether he can be removed either through a no confidence motion.
Wickremesinghe insisted he had a parliamentary majority
There was no immediate reaction from Rajapaksa.
Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya said he is seeking legal advice on the unexpected situation that had arisen and he will issue a statement Saturday.
Sri Lanka Freedom Party parliamentarian Dilan Perera said Rajapaksa had enough numbers to command a majority.
At least one UNP member Ananda Aluthgamage said he will support Rajapaksa.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera in a twitter.com message said that the appointment Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister was unconstitutional and illegal. “This is an anti democratic coup,” he said.
Finance Minister Samaraweera is expected to present a budget to parliament on November 05. He said a request had been made to the speaker to call parliament on Sunday.