Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe resigned on Thursday, days after the ruling party's candidate lost the presidential election to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. He was under pressure to quit and handover the government to the opposite camp after Rajapaksa won the presidential election on Saturday. Rajapaksa defeated Wickremesinghe's deputy Sajith Premadasa.
In a special statement, the Prime Minister said that he had met President Rajapaksa on Tuesday and discussed the future of Sri Lanka’s Parliament, Colombo Gazette newspaper reported. He said that while his Government still has the majority in Parliament it was decided to respect the mandate given to Rajapaksa at the Presidential election and step down.
Sources said President Rajapaksa will appoint his elder brother and former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa, the current main opposition leader, as the next prime minister.
Mahinda was appointed the Prime Minister on October 26, 2018 by the then President Maithripala Sirisena, in a controversial move that plunged the country into an unprecedented constitutional crisis. He resigned in December as two crucial Supreme Court decisions made the embattled former strongman's efforts to cling to premiership untenable. The apex court later unanimously declared that the dissolution of Parliament by Sirisena was "illegal".
Mahinda won power in 2005 and went on to become South Asia's longest-serving leader. He became the country's youngest ever parliamentarian in 1970 at the age of 24.
The United National Party (UNP) leader faced a revolt since Premadasa's defeat, a regular occurrence during the last 25 years whenever the UNP lost a major election. Yet Wickremesinghe held on.
There will be a caretaker cabinet of 15 members to run the government until Rajapaksa will be constitutionally able to dissolve parliament after February 2020.
(With PTI inputs)