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Sri Lanka’s controversial PM Rajapaksa said stability could be restored only through fresh elections

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Colombo. Sri Lanka’s controversially appointed prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said Sunday that stability in the country could only be restored through a fresh round of parliamentary elections.

The country is witnessing a political crisis since President Maithripala Sirisena last month abruptly sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with former strongman Rajapaksa in a move termed by many as unconstitutional.

Both Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa have been claiming to be the legitimate prime minister since October 26.

Rajapaksa, in his first televised address since becoming the prime minister, said on Sunday that the purported government, led by Sirisena, was only an interim arrangement and that stability could only be restored through a fresh round of parliamentary polls.

He said that President Sirisena has entrusted him to resurrect the falling economy and living standards of the people.

“It is now barely a month since the change of government on October 26. What we have now is only an interim government. When a downward trend manifests itself, it is difficult to turn things around in a month or two,” Rajapaksa said in the address.

Rajapaksa said Wickremesinghe’s United National Party is hesitant to face elections unlike all other parties.

He alleged that the Wickremesinghe government borrowed USD 20.7 billion in three years due to which “it will take a while to turn things around”.

Rajapaksa has so far failed to prove his parliamentary majority. He has been defeated in at least three no trust motions in Parliament.

However, he has refused to step down and said that these motions are not recognised, accusing parliamentary Speaker Karu Jayasuriya of bias.

Jayasuriya has said that Parliament will not recognise Rajapaksa until he proved his majority in a floor test.

The political crisis began with Wickremesinghe’s sacking on October 26.

Sirisena later dissolved Parliament, almost 20 months before its term was to end, and ordered snap election. The Supreme Court overturned Sirisena’s decision to dissolve Parliament and halted the preparations for snap polls.

Speaker Jayasuriya then ordered a floor test in the 225-member assembly to end the ongoing political crisis, a move which invited the wrath of the government of Rajapaksa.

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