Rajapaksa to resign, pave the way for Ranil’s return

Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to vacate the office of Prime Minister — which he controversially held for seven weeks — paving the way for the return of ousted leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. The move signals an end to the political crisis. Mr. Wickremesinghe will be sworn in as Prime Minister on Sunday, political sources told The Hindu . According to Mr. Rajapaksa’s son and legislator Namal Rajapaksa, Mr. [Mahinda] Rajapaksa will “resign” on Saturday “to ensure stability of the nation.” He said their new party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP or Sri Lanka People’s Front), would form a coalition with President Maithripala Sirisena. The latter had abruptly installed his former rival as Prime Minister on October 26, replacing Mr. Wickremesinghe. His snap decision plunged Sri Lanka into unprecedented political turmoil. Courts stand firm Mr. Rajapaksa’s decision to “step down” came after the Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay an earlier appeal court order restraining him and his purported Cabinet from functioning in office. In another setback to Mr. Sirisena, the court on Thursday ruled that his November 9 move dissolving Parliament and calling for snap polls was illegal. The political front led by Mr. Wickremesinghe, with the support of other Opposition MPs resisting Mr. Rajapaksa’s disputed appointment, showed a majority in the House several times since October 26, but both Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Rajapaksa refused to recognise the trust votes.

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