Bringing an end to the Constitutional and political uncertainty in the country that lasted over six weeks, UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe took oaths as the Prime Minister at the auspicious time of 11.16 this morning before President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat in a simple ceremony.
Wickremesinghe was removed from the Premiership unexpectedly and unceremoniously by President Sirisena on October 26 and replaced with former President and Kurunegala District Parliamentarian Mahinda Rajapaksa.
However, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and the UNF Parliamentary group with the support of the 14 members of the TNA and six members of the JVP refused to acknowledge Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister maintaining that Rajapaksa did not command the confidence of the majority in Parliament.
On November 27 President Sirisena prorogued Parliament until November 16, which was to be met on December 5 to discuss the budget 2019.
In the meantime, the UPFA leaders tried hard to woo MPs from other political parties to their rank to raise the magic number of 113 in Parliament but failed.
On November 2, 119 Members passed a resolution requesting President Sirisena to reconvene Parliament immediately.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announced that he would convene Parliament on November 7 under the power vested on him and under the Standing Orders of Parliament and added that Parliament would not accept Rajapaksa as PM because he did not have the majority in Parliament.
On November 14 and 16, Parliament passed two resolutions of No Confidence Motions (NCM) against Rajapaksa and both were rejected by President Sirisena and the UPFA.
In the meantime, President Sirisena swore-in four UNP members, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Vadivel Suresh, Wasantha Senanayake and Ananda Aluthgamage as ministers in the implied Government.
President Sirisena on November 9, issued a Gazette notification dissolved Parliament with January 5, 2019, as the day of the election.
On November 12, the UNP, TNA, JVP and the SLMC and several individuals and organizations filed 12 Fundamental Rights petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the dissolution.
On the same day, a three-judge bench chaired by Chief Justice Nalin Perera, with the consent of two other justices Prasanna Jayawardana and Priyantha Jayawardana permitting leave to proceed also issued an interim order staying the Gazette notification issued by President Sirisena to dissolve Parliament.
On December 3, 122 Parliamentarians petitioned to the Court of Appeal challenging the authority Mahinda and his purported cabinet functioned in the backdrop of without having a majority in Parliament.
The ruling was issued by Chairman of the Appeals Court P. Padman Surasena and Judge Arjun Obeysekera after considering submissions on the Quo Warranto Writ filed by 122 Members of Parliament.
The Court of Appeal issued an interim injunction against Rajapaksa and his Cabinet from functioning in respective offices, until the 12th of December.
Rajapaksa and his administration on December 4, filed a motion before the Supreme Court challenging the Interim Injunction issued by the Court of Appeal.
On December 14, a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court chaired by Chief Justice Nalin Perera unanimously ruled that the dissolution of Parliament was unconstitutional.
In a statement, Mahinda Rajapaksa said his group did not agree with the pronouncement made by the Appeals Court.
On December 13, a fuller bench comprising seven Supreme Court judges unanimously ruled that the dissolution of Parliament was unconstitutional and President did not have the power to dissolve Parliament before four-and-a-half years out of the full term of five years, unless a two-thirds of members pass a resolution in Parliament and make a request to do so from President.
By a separate Supreme Court bench of three judges on the same day comprising Justice Eva Wanasundara, Vijith Malalaghoda and Buwaneka Aluvihare refused to vacate the Court of Appeal Stay Order that suspended the functioning in office by Rajapaksa as Prime Minister and his Cabinet.
The Supreme Court also set January 16,17 and 18 of 2019 to consider the appeal by the Rajapaksa team shattering all hopes of Rajapaksa to remain as Prime Minister without any official duty.
He resigned on Saturday paving the way for President Sirisena to reinstate Wickremesinghe as the PM.
Interestingly, this was the 5th time Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.
After the swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe participated in religious ceremonies and made a brief address to the nation at the Temple Trees.
The media had been barred from officially covering the swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat.(Sandun Jayasekera)