Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has sacked the country’s prime minister and replaced him with a former strongman, an official said.
Mr Sirisena informed Ranil Wickremesinghe that he was being replaced by his former nemesis Mahinda Rajapaksa, a presidential aide said.
The aide, Mahinda Amaraweera, said Mr Rajapaksa has the majority needed in the 225-member parliament to run a stable government.
The move ends a more than three-year coalition government that was formed by two bitterly opposed political parties on a promise to tackle corruption and wipe out alleged financial irregularities under the previous government, led by Mr Rajapaksa.
Mr Sirisena, who was health minister under Mr Rajapaksa, and Mr Wickremesinghe joined forces to defeat Mr Rajapaksa in elections in 2014, accusing him of corruption and undemocratic rule.
Mr Sirisena was chosen president largely through votes from Mr Wickremesinghe’s party.
“The appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister is unconstitutional and illegal. This is an undemocratic coup,” said Mangala Samaraweera, the finance minister of the outgoing government.
Mr Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in parliament in April which was brought by supporters of Mr Rajapaksa.
The main allegation against Mr Wickremesinghe involved his appointment of a Singaporean as the central bank governor who is now accused of leaking inside information to benefit his son-in-law in a treasury bond sale.
After being chosen president as a neutral candidate, Mr Sirisena accepted an offer from Mr Rajapaksa to take over his Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Since then, party rivalries have simmered within the government, with Mr Rajapaksa leading a splinter Freedom Party group.