A Sri Lankan court has barred Mahinda Rajapaksa from acting as Prime Minister, in a major setback to the President,Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, who installed him after sacking premier Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe that triggered a major constitutional crisis in the country.
The Court of Appeal temporary halted Mr. Rajapaksa and his Cabinet from functioning in their positions in response to a case filed by 122 legislators against the disputed government. The court set the hearing of the case for December 12 and 13. 'According to the interim relief, Mr. Rajapaksa and his disputed government have been prevented from acting as Prime Minister, cabinet and deputy ministers,' said a lawyer, who was present at the hearing.
He said the court was of the opinion that 'irreparable damage' could be caused if persons not entitled to do so sit as prime minister and cabinet ministers. Reacting to the court ruling, Mr. Wickremesinghe said, 'The triumph of democratic institutions over the whims of individuals is the legacy of the good governance agenda. We will continue to defend the sovereignty of our citizens and we stand ready to face elections in a legitimate manner in line with the constitution' he tweeted.
Both Mr. Wickremesinghe and Mr. Rajapaksa claim to be the PMs. Mr. Wickremesinghe says his dismissal is invalid because he still holds a majority in the 225-member Parliament. Prior to the crisis, Mr. Wickramasinghe’s UNP had the backing of 106 parliamentarians, while Mr. Rajapaksa and Mr. Sirisena combine had 95 seats. Mr. Rajapaksa has failed to prove his majority in Parliament.
Mr. Wickremesinghe, with support of main Tamil party, claims support of over 113 legislators, required for majority.