PM Rajapaksa Resigns Amid Crisis

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Colombo: Sri Lanka’s disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Saturday, seven weeks after he was appointed in a surprise move that sparked a political crisis in the island nation.

The former strongman signed his resignation letter, surrounded by his party members at his official residence in the capital, television footage showed. Rajapaksa’s resignation is likely to bring to an end a nearly two-month-long power struggle and will pave the way for a new government to be established under President Maithripala Sirisena.

Sri Lanka plunged into a political turmoil when Sirisena abruptly sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with former President Rajapaksa. When Sirisena’s decision was contested, he dissolved Parliament and called for a snap parliamentary election in January.

Wickremesinghe is now expected to return to office on Sunday. “The President has agreed to swear in Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister tomorrow at 10 am,” his United National Party’s (UNP) spokesman Harin Fernando told the BBC.

Fernando said this would end the political deadlock and noted that the country and its economy had suffered a “huge damage” since the crisis began 50 days ago.