Sri Lanka’s PM quits as party losses presidential polls

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday announced his resignation, following his party’s candidate Sajith Premadasa suffered a defeat at Saturday’s presidential election.

“Even though we command the majority in Parliament, based on the people’s mandate received by Mr. [Gotabaya] Rajapaksa, we have decided to make way to allow him to form a government,” Wickremesinghe said in a statement issued to the media.

“I respect democracy, hence I have decided to resign as the prime minister,” he added.

Wickremesinghe said he will formally inform newly elected President Rajapaksa of his decision in writing.

Following his resignation, Rajapaksa will appoint a caretaker government, which will govern until the next parliamentary election scheduled to be held in March.

Namal Rajapaksa, a member of the parliament and president’s nephew, confirmed to Anadolu Agency that a caretaker government will be appointed within couple of days.

“We will form a 15-member caretaker government, with the new prime minister,” Rajapaksa said.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, former president and elder brother of the newly elected president, is tipped to be appointed prime minister in the caretaker government.

Asanga Welikala, a constitutional expert in Sri Lanka, said that parliament can be dissolved in the first four and a half years of its five-year term only by a resolution passed with a two-thirds majority.

The president can dissolve parliament on his own in the last six months of its term.

“Accordingly, in the period between now and March 1, 2020, a dissolution will require parliament to pass a resolution by a two-thirds majority requesting dissolution,” he told Anadolu Agency.

After March 1, Welikala said, the president can dissolve parliament on his own for a parliamentary election that must be held before the end of the term of the current parliament in August.

The last parliamentary election in Sri Lanka was held in August 2015 which was won by Wickremesinghe’s United National Party.
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