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Sri Lanka Attorney General refuses to endorse sacking of Ranil Wickremesinghe

Posted in Featured, S. Asia

Published on November 05, 2018 with No Comments

Sri Lanka’s attorney general has refused to endorse the president’s dismissal of the prime minister for a former strongman accused of rights abuses, the clearest sign yet the move may be unconstitutional.

The country has been locked in a tense standoff between two rivals claiming to head Sri Lanka’s government since Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s shock sacking last Friday.

The president and parliamentary speaker held emergency talks in a bid to work out a compromise and avoid a showdown.The crisis talks came after Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya cast fresh doubt on the legality of President Maithripala Sirisena’s actions, declining to endorse them.

Jayasuriya’s refusal bolstered Wickremesinghe’s claim that the president acted outside the constitution by dumping him for Mahinda Rajapakse, a former president who ruled with an iron fist for a decade.

Wickremesinghe has refused to leave the prime minister’s official residence and demanded Sirisena reconvene parliament so MPs can vote for a leader and end the constitutional crisis.Sirisena had resisted international pressure to revoke his suspension of parliament for 20 days while his appointee Rajapakse has assumed his duties, naming a new cabinet and addressing bureaucrats at the finance ministry on Wednesday.

“Having regard to the role of the Attorney General under the constitution, I am of the view that expressing an opinion on the said questions would be deemed inappropriate,” said Jayasuriya, the government’s top legal advisor. Sri Lanka’s parliamentary speaker had asked Jayasuriya to provide his legal opinion as pressure builds on Sirisena to resolve the nearly week-long impasse that has left one dead in clashes. Wickremesinghe amended the constitution after winning the premiership in 2015 to remove the president’s power to sack prime ministers.

 

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