Sri Lanka’s disputed PM Mahinda Rajapaksa to step down

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Sri Lanka‘s strongman leader Mahinda Rajapaksa will step down from his disputed position of the prime minister on Saturday, his son has said.

Rajapaksa’s legislator son, Namal Rajapaksa, posted on his Twitter account on Friday that his father will quit “to ensure stability of the nation”.

“To ensure stability of the nation, former president … Rajapaksa has decided to resign from the Premiership tomorrow after an address to the nation,” Namal Rajapaksa said.

Pro-Rajapaksa lawmaker, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, also told The Associated Press news agency that Rajapaksa decided to resign following a meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena, allowing the president to appoint a new government.

On Thursday, the country’s Supreme Court declared Sirisena’s decision to dissolve the parliament unconstitutional. 

The top court also cancelled a snap election Sirisena had called for January 5.

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The top court’s ruling meant that the country was effectively without a government and heading for a shut down in the absence of parliament voting for a budget for 2019.

A separate court earlier this month ordered that Rajapaksa should not exercise the powers of the office he has claimed since October 26.

Crippling power struggle

Rajapaksa’s decision to back down signals an end to a crippling seven-week long power struggle in the South Asian island nation.

Sri Lanka’s political crisis began on October 26 when Sirisena abruptly sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa in his place.

Rajapaksa failed to prove his majority in parliament and was twice defeated in no-confidence motions on November 14 and 16, but refused to step down.

Wickremesinghe also refused to step down since October 26, maintaining that his sacking was illegal. 

Political sources said Sirisena was likely to invite Wickremesinghe to form a new government over the weekend and end the power vacuum.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/sri-lanka-disputed-pm-mahinda-rajapaksa-steps-son-181214134052835.html

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