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Sri Lanka court restrains Rajapaksa from acting as PM

Sri Lanka Parliament,President Maithripala Sirisena,Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

A majority of legislators asked the Court of Appeal last week to intervene, saying Rajapakse should not have remained in office after parliament passed motions against him.

A Sri Lanka court barred former President Mahinda Rajapaksa Monday from taking over as prime minister after he rebuffed calls to step down following two votes of no confidence by lawmakers.

The court issued its order on Monday after 122 members of Sri Lanka's parliament, who are allied with ousted prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, filed a legal action on November 23 challenging Rajapaksa's authority as prime minister.

Sri Lanka's top court stayed the dissolution order pending a hearing on its constitutionality that starts on Tuesday, allowing parliament to resume meeting.

He urged supporters to remain calm and join his struggle to press for a general election almost two years ahead of schedule.

A second source in Sirisena's party said the president was looking for a "dignified exit" by withdrawing the dissolution order as the court was unlikely to rule in his favour.

Sirisena meanwhile told minority Tamil legislators who held talks with him on Monday evening that he would resolve the political vacuum "within 24 hours".

Monday, appellate judge Preethipadhman Surasena issued the stay, laying groundwork for a full hearing by the court on December 12 to decide the matter.

Deposed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told reporters today that the UNF has no issue with agreeing to an election.

Speaking further, the President said that Ranil Wickremesinghe's extreme liberal political philosophy not only destroyed the country, but also murdered the concept of good governance.

The two rivals had been neck and neck trying to cobble together enough backing, negotiating with key legislators and trying to lure defectors.

The latest court ruling is yet another setback for Rajapakse, who ruled with an iron fist for a decade before being defeated by none other than Sirisena in a 2015 election.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Tuesday resumed hearing the case challenging Mr. Sirisena's decision to sack Parliament and hold snap polls, which petitioners argued were not within his rights before the current legislature completed four and a half years.