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Sri Lankan Court temporarily bars disputed Prime Minister Rajapaksa from office

Image via Facebook page of Groundviews. Used under a content sharing agreement.

The power struggle between ousted Sri Lankan Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and the newly appointed Prime Minister Rajapaksa has reached a new level. On 3 December 2018, a Sri Lankan Appeals Court issued an interim injunction restraining Rajapaksa from his office as prime minister until the petition challenging his appointment is heard.

Ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and 121 other Parliamentarians went to court last month seeking a writ of Quo Warranto, which would require Rajapaksa to show what authority empowers him to exercise the office of prime minister. They declared that Mahinda Rajapaksa was not entitled to hold the office despite the fact that President Maithripala Sirisena rejected two no-confidence motions against Rajapaksa.

Many Sri Lankans rejoiced at the verdict:

Rajapaksa tweeted that he would go to the Supreme Court to challenge the verdict. In another statement, he called for an early election to settle the battle, confident in his chances because his party swept the local elections in February 2018.

Patali Champika Ranawaka, ex-Minister of Megapolis & Western Development in Sri Lanka, lashed out at Rajapaksa's call for an election:

As the process to decide which PM will ultimately hold office drags on, citizens are still protesting:

Rohan Samarajiva terms this crisis in Sri Lanka a head-on collision between Constitutionalism and Feudalism. In a blog he writes:

It appears that the political elite’s dalliance with Constitutionalism has about run its course, sixty years after Independence. We are reverting to our native Feudalism: not just the ruling family but large swaths of the populace, including opinion leaders and intellectuals.

Sarmini Serasinghe calls all Sri Lankans to rise up before it's too late.

The time has come for each and every citizen of Sri Lanka, irrespective of social and professional status, to rise in peace and defend the sacred institution of Democracy in our country before it’s too late. It’s our right and moral duty as its citizens.

Meanwhile, practical questions have begun to arise — like how to refer to Rajapaksa:

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