The sudden development came amid growing tensions between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe on several policy matters and the President has been critical of the Prime Minister and his policies, especially on economy and security.
Wickremesinghe asserted that the swearing in of Rajapaksa in his place is “illegal and unconstitutional” and he will prove his majority in Parliament. “I will continue to be the Prime Minister. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s appointment is unconstitutional,” he said.
The political developments unfolded after Sirisena’s broader political front United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) announced that it has decided to quit the current unity government with Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP). 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.