Colombo, October 26: In a shocking development from South Asia, the Sri Lankan government is set for a rejig as President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday and replaced him with ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has ruled the nation for nearly 10 years.
Shortly after the state-owned media reported visuals of Rajapaksa taking oath, an announcement was made by Sirisena's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) that it would be withdrawing from the Unity government. Indian National Aware of Alleged Plot to Kill Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Arrested.
The Unity government was formed in 2015 when Sirisena was elected President with Wickremesinghe's support, ending a nearly decade-long rule by Rajapaksa.
Sirisena, who was Rajapaksa's minister of health, broke away from him to contest the presidential elections.
Political analysts said Sirisena's move to install Rajapaksa as the prime minister could lead to a constitutional crisis as the 19th amendment to the Constitution would not allow the sacking of Wickremesinghe as the premier without a majority.
Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine has only 95 seats and is short of a simple majority. Wickremesinghe's UNP has 106 seats on its own with just seven short of the majority. There was no immediate comment from Wickremesinghe or the UNP.
President Sirisena's party withdrew from the ruling coalition after simmering tensions between him and Wickremesinghe. The unity government was thrown into a crisis after Rajapaksa's new party pulled off a stunning victory in local elections in February seen as a referendum on the ruling alliance.
Last week, it was reported that Sirisena accused his senior coalition partner the UNP of not taking seriously an alleged conspiracy to assassinate him and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the former top defence ministry bureaucrat and brother of ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
(With agency inputs)