Sri Lankan court puts prime minister's position on hold

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A Sri Lanka court on Monday suspended Mahinda Rajapakse's powers as prime minister and ruled that his cabinet could not function until its legitimacy was established.

"According to the interim relief, Rajapaksa and his disputed government have been prevented from acting as PM, cabinet and deputy ministers", said a lawyer, who was present at the hearing.

The court fixed dates from December 12 to proceed with the hearing of the petition while notice was also issued on the 49-member Cabinet including Prime Minister Rajapaksa to appear before the court on that date.

Sri Lanka has been in political turmoil since October 26, when Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa in his place.

Mr. Sirisena later dissolved Parliament, nearly 20 months before its term was to end, and ordered a snap election.

But Rajapaksa has failed to show a working majority in parliament and lost two no-confidence votes.

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President Maithripala Sirisena, who appointed Rajapakse, dismissed parliament last month but the Supreme Court intervened to restore it.

Both Mr. Wickremesinghe and Mr. Rajapaksa claim to be the prime ministers.

The Sri Lankan president has said that due to sharp personal differences with Wickremesinghe he would not reappoint him as the Prime Minister.

The petition was signed by 122 Parliamentarians claiming that Rajapaksa has no support in Parliament to be Prime Minister.

Speculation are that President Sirisena may remove Mr. Rajapaksa on Wednesday when another motion would be taken up in Parliament and is defeated.

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