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.
Underlining the risk of chaos in Sri Lanka, where the government had been under pressure over a misfiring economy, Media and Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said on Twitter that the appointment of Rajapaksa as prime minister was a violation of the constitution, which was amended in 2015 to curtail the executive powers of the president. First notice is on Mr. Wickremesinghe being removed as prime minister and the other on the appointment of Mr. Rajapaska as the new permeir, Colombo Gazette reported.
"I am addressing you as the prime minister of Sri Lanka", Wickremesinghe told reporters at a nationally televised press conference on Friday night. In a telephonic conversation with a TV station, Wickremesinghe said "I will continue to be the Prime Minister".
"What the president now should do immediately is to summon Parliament and have a vote". Both Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe were in India and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in recent weeks.
Sirisena's office announced the surprise decision moments after he sacked incumbent premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, despite opponents saying he had no power to do so under the constitution. He said a request had been made to the speaker to call parliament on Sunday.
In 2015, Rajapaksa sought his third term in office in the presidential election held on Jan 8, while the opposition supported his former aide Maithripala Sirisena as the joint opposition candidate.
There was no immediate comment from Wickremesinghe. Since then, party rivalries have simmered within the government, with Rajapaksa leading a splinter Freedom Party group. One of them, Amal Prasanna, said the move was "totally unexpected" but that he was happy Rajapaksa had returned.
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