COLOMBO: A court in Sri Lanka suspended Mahinda Rajapakse’s powers as prime minister and ruled his disputed cabinet could not govern the strife-torn island until it proved its legitimacy.
The decision casts further legal doubt over Rajapakse’s claim to lead Sri Lanka , which has been in turmoil since his controversial appointment a month ago.
Rajapakse, who was installed after the country’s president sacked Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister on October 26, has twice been voted out by parliament but has refused to step down.
Rajapakse said he did not agree with the court’s decision and would appeal on Tuesday, but cancelled a meeting with bankers in compliance with the ruling. “We do not agree with the interim order of the Court of Appeal,” he said in a statement, referring to himself and his party. “We are preparing papers to go to the Supreme Court first thing in the morning tomorrow.”
He urged supporters to remain calm and join his struggle to press for a general election nearly two years ahead of schedule.
President Maithripala Sirisena has been under pressure to prove his appointee Rajapakse – a divisive but charismatic strongman who twice ruled Sri Lanka – commands support. But the president acknowledged that he was left without a government following the sudden court ruling.
Minority Tamil legislators who held talks with Sirisena on Monday evening said the leader had told them he would resolve the political vacuum “within 24 hours”.