Sri Lanka SC Upholds Restraining Court Order Against Rajapaksa From Acting as PM
The Supreme Court decided that a Court of Appeal order issued against the appointment of Rajapaksa as Prime Minister and against his Cabinet from holding office will stand.
File photo of Mahinda Rajapaksa. (Photo: Reuters)
Colombo: Sri Lanka's Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay a court order restraining Mahinda Rajapaksa from holding the office of Prime Minister until it fully heard the case next month, prolonging the political uncertainty plaguing the country for nearly two months.
The apex court's latest ruling came a day after it unanimously declared that the dissolution of Parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena was "illegal", in a body blow to the embattled leader, whose controversial decisions plunged the island nation into an unprecedented political turmoil.
The Supreme Court decided that a Court of Appeal order issued against the appointment of Rajapaksa as Prime Minister and against his Cabinet from holding office will stand, Colombo Gazette reported.
The appeal filed by Rajapaksa will be taken up for hearing on January 16, 17 and 18.
The apex court asked all parties to provide written submissions within three weeks.
The Appeal Court on December 3 issued notice and an interim order against Rajapaksa and his Government, preventing them from acting as Prime Minister, Cabinet and Deputy Ministers.
The order was issued in a case filed by 122 lawmakers against Rajapaksa and his new government.
Rajapaksa and the members of the purported government filed the appeal against the Court of Appeal's interim injunction that restrained them from functioning in their respective posts.
The United National Front (UNF) said that the order means Rajapaksa cannot be Prime Minister and so the former cabinet must be reinstated.
UNF Parliamentarian Ajith Perera said that the President must now appoint Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister.
Sri Lanka is going through a major political crisis since October 26 when President Maithripala Sirisena, in a controversial move, removed Wickremesinghe and installed ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place.
Parliamentarians of Wickremesinghe's UNP, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Tamil National Alliance on November 23 filed the petition in the Court of Appeal challenging Rajapaksa on continuing to hold the office of Prime Minister after a no-confidence motion was passed in Parliament against him.
Sirisena, after sacking Wickremesinghe on October 26, dissolved Parliament and called for a snap election on January 5.
However, the Supreme Court overturned his decision and halted the preparations for snap polls.
Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa both claim to be the prime ministers with the former claiming that his dismissal is invalid because he still holds a majority in the 225-member Parliament.
Prior to the crisis, Wickramasinghe's UNP had the backing of 106 parliamentarians while Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine had 95 seats.
Rajapaksa has, so far, failed to prove his majority in Parliament.
The President has said that due to sharp personal differences with Wickremesinghe, he would not reappoint him as the Prime Minister.
However, Wickremesinghe's UNP claims that Sirisena will be left with no choice as he would be the man who will command the confidence in the House.
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