Sri Lanka's disputed prime minister resigns to end impasse

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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Saturday, his son and a party lawmaker told Reuters, seven weeks after President Maithripala Sirisena appointed him in controversial circumstances.

Separately on Friday, the country's Supreme Court rejected Rajapaksa's bid for an injunction on a lower court's order that barred him and his cabinet from carrying out their roles in government.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court said Mr Sirisena had acted illegally in November by dissolving parliament and calling snap polls with almost two years to go until elections were due.

The announcement comes following a meeting of the UPFA parliamentary group under the patronage of President Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, at the Presidential Secretariat earlier today. Sirisena then dissolved Parliament and called new elections, but the Supreme Court struck down that move as unconstitutional.

A second motion has also been filed at the Supreme Court by 122 MPs who are named respondents of the appeal, requesting the relevant appeal not to be heard before Judge Eva Wanasundara in fear of a biased judgement.

The President removed Wickremesinghe from the post of Prime Minister on October 26 and appointed former president Rajapaksa as the Premier, plunging the country into an unprecedented crisis.

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But Wickremesinghe refused to step down insisting that his sacking was illegal, leaving the Indian Ocean nation of 21 million people with two men claiming the premiership.

Wickremesinghe is now expected to return to office on Sunday. That issue is now being canvassed before courts.

However, he said that he has no intention of remaining as Prime Minister without a general election being held, and in order to not hamper the President in any way, he resigned from the position of Prime Minister and made way for the President to form a new Government.

"If the stalemate continued, we would have ended up without a budget for 2019 and the government would not have been able to function", Abeywardena said.

Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) on Saturday said that Sirisena has agreed to reinstate him in the post after a discussion with him over the phone on Friday.

On Wednesday, the legislature had voted overwhelmingly to demand the reinstatement of Wickremesinghe.