ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Sri Lanka plunged into a constitutional crisis on Friday night after the president overthrew the prime minister, a movement that surprised the nation and was labeled illegal by some government ministers.
released their televisions on Friday after President Maithripala Sirisena dismissed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with Mahinda Rajapaksa, a popular former leader accused of human rights abuses, outrageous nepotism, and close ties with China when he ruled the country
The swearing-in ceremony, broadcast live, was a moment of high political drama for Sri Lanka, and Mr. Rajapaksa grinned as he shook Mr. Sirisena's hand. The men were former political allies until the president broke away from Rajapaksa's party to drop him in the 201
After the swearing in, fireworks and celebrations broke out in Sri Lanka, but the capital Colombo was uneasy. Ministers declared the move unconstitutional. Mr. Rajapaksa was sworn in around 19 o'clock. as chief of the navy of the army observed air force and army in a stately room within the presidential secretariat.
Cabinet ministers and parliamentarians began to override the new government, but it remained unclear how many would eventually cross. The country's courts, which are considered weak and politically influenced, would probably not rule against President Sirisena.
"I call you Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, I still hold the majority of the House," Mr. Wickremesinghe said in a speech to the nation. "Convene the Parliament and I will prove it."
Chaos attacked parts of the capital as Rajapaksa supporters stormed the country's national television station and ripped it out of the air, circulating a clip later and showing a mob, journalists harassing the station. Troops were called to protect the staff of the canal.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera tweeted that Rajapaksa's appointment was "unconstitutional and illegal, an anti-democratic coup."
The upheaval seemed to secure the reoccupation of Rajapaksa, a man who for ten years was President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka was until 2015 when the country ended decades of civil war.
Mr. Rajapaksa is expected to win presidential elections next year, partly because the Sri Lankan people have become dissatisfied as the economy is booming under the current administration.
At the height of his power, Rajapaksa simultaneously served as cabinet minister and cabinet minister while his three brothers served as ministers of defense and ministers of economy and ports. Between them, they controlled 80 percent of the state budget and were charged with corruption and gross human rights violations. Their anti-government opponents and journalists are often gone. Sirisena's power play is as much about the contradictory personalities of the President and the Prime Minister as it is about geopolitics. The president and the newly ousted prime minister were political enemies until they decided in 2015 to unite their parties to take on Rajapaksa.
India and China are fighting over their influence in Sri Lanka, the island nation off the southern coast of India. The country's relations with China intensified under the rule of Rajapaksa, when he borrowed billions of dollars from the Beijing government to build infrastructure projects, some of which had poor economic objectives.
Western officials fear that China could use the strategically located port – at the intersection of one of the two – the world's busiest sea routes – for military purposes that Beijing and Colombo denied.
The tension between President Sirisena and his ousted prime minister, Mr Wickremesinghe, had intensified over the past year, coming to light in the last year for several weeks. Mr. Sirisena began dismissing the heads of state institutions outside his jurisdiction and stacking them with loyalists.
The tension exploded earlier this month when The Hindu, a major Indian daily, reported that Sirisena had been a member of India's Cabinet members burned out a plot to assassinate him. Sirisena declined the report.
Last week, Mr Wickremesinghe flew to India to meet with his counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in hopes of improving relations. Mr Wickremesinghe then issued a summary of the meeting, claiming that Modi complained that the Sri Lankan government was stopping its infrastructure investment in the country and was not responding positively to India's diplomatic overtures.
India 's government has been relieved by Mr Rajapaksa. Www.socialistgroup.eu/gpes/newsdeta…ome&site=msc The parliamentary elections in 2015 were broken off and the former chairman had strained relations with New Delhi he brought the country closer to Beijing
After the elections, India said it would invest in infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka airport in the south of the country next to the seaport built in China. But the airport deal has stalled.
American officials were probably dissatisfied with the government rescheduling, believing that Rajapaksa was too close to China to keep the country neutral.
Vice President Mike Pence has blown up what he called China "debt trap diplomacy" earlier this month, highlighting Sri Lanka by saying that the China-built seaport "will soon become a military base for China's growing blue-water navy could be ".