Srilankan Prime Minister resigns

Mahinda Rajapaksa has resigned as Sri Lankas prime minister, seven weeks after he was appointed by the President Maithripala Sirisena in a move that sparked a political crisis.

Former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to return to office on 16 th December. The resignation could end a nearly two-month-long power struggle that has dented global confidence in Sri Lankas stability. The country and its economy had suffered huge damage since the crisis began 50 days ago in October. Since 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” ;Mr Rajapaksa said in his resignation statement.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court said Mr Sirisena had acted illegally in November by
dissolving parliament and calling snap polls with nearly two years to go until elections were due. Throughout the crisis, Mr Wickremesinghe has always maintained he is the rightful prime minister. The crisis, which has provoked brawls in parliament and sparked large protests, has been closely watched by regional power India, as well as the US, China and the European Union.

What are the roots of the saga?

Mr Sirisena was once a party ally of Mr Rajapaksa and served in his government. But in 2015, he teamed up with Ranil Wickremesinghe to defeat him in an election and the pair went on to form a coalition government.

However, the relationship between president and prime minister turned sour and Mr
Sirisena in October turned on Mr Wickremesinghe, sacking him in favour of Mr Rajapaksa, his old ally-turned-rival-turned-ally.

He called Mr Wickremesinghe arrogant and linked him to a controversial central bank bond sale, which is alleged to have led to the loss of 11bn Sri Lankan rupees ($65m; £50m). The president also alleged that a cabinet minister was involved in a plot to kill him and that police had obstructed an investigation.

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