In a sudden move, President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday pulled his faction out of Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition and within hours appointed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister. The startling developments led to the collapse of the country’s first national unity government, with Mr. Sirisena joining hands once again with the leader he ousted in 2015.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), however, maintained that Mr. Rajapaksa’s appointment was “illegal and unconstitutional.”
The growing friction between Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe within the country’s uneasy coalition was no secret. Mr. Sirisena’s reported outburst at a Cabinet meeting last week — over an alleged assassination plot targeting him and the development of a container terminal in Colombo — further exposed the discord.