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Lanka crisis deepens as Speaker recognises Wickremesinghe as PM

Lanka crisis deepens as Speaker recognises Wickremesinghe as PM
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COLOMBO/ NEW DELHI: One man died, and two others were injured when shots were fired on Sunday in Sri Lanka, as a constitutional crisis over the shock sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe turned violent.

Bodyguards of Arjuna Ranatunga, petroleum minister in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, fired live rounds as a mob allied to the president threatened the cabinet member, police said.

It was the first report of serious violence since Wickremesinghe's sacking.

Sri Lankan Parliament's speaker on Sunday recognised Ranil Wickremesinghe as the country's prime minister, saying he has "obtained a mandate to secure democracy and good governance, in significant relief to the embattled UNP leader who was sacked by President Maithripala Sirisena in a dramatic move on Friday night.

In a letter to Sirisena, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya questioned the president's decision to suspend parliament till November 16, saying it will have "serious and undesirable" consequences on the country.

He asked the president to restore Wickremesinghe's privileges as the leader of the government who has "obtained a mandate to secure democracy and good governance.

Sirisena on Friday night sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister. Next day, Sirisena suspended parliament till November 16 after Wickremesinghe sought an emergency session to prove his majority.

The president also withdrew Wickremesinghe's security and vehicles to accord them to his 72-year-old successor, who staged a dramatic political comeback on Friday.

Jayasuriya said a prorogation of parliament should be one in consultation with the speaker. The speaker also questioned Sirisena's decision to withdraw the security of Wickremesinghe.

Wickremesinghe, who termed his shock dismissal as illegal and unconstitutional, remained at the prime minister's official residence-cum-office of Temple Trees.

India is closely following the political developments in Sri Lanka where President Maithripala Sirisena appointed his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister after ousting Ranil Wickremesinghe from the post, the External Affairs Ministry said on Sunday.

"As a democracy and a close friendly neighbour, we hope that democratic values and the constitutional process will be respected," Ministry spokesman Raveeh Kumar said in response to queries from the media.

with pti inputs

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