December 14, 2018 / 2:19 PM / 8 months ago

Sri Lanka PM Rajapaksa to resign as fears of government shutdown grow

FILE PHOTO: Sri Lanka's newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Finance Ministry in Colombo, Sri Lanka October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/File Photo

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will resign from his post, his son said on Friday, in a move that will force President Maithripala Sirisena to appoint a replacement to avert a possible government shutdown on Jan 1.

“To ensure stability of the nation, former president ... Rajapaksa has decided to resign from the Premiership tomorrow after an address to the nation,” Namal Rajapaksa, an MP in his father’s party, said on his Twitter account.

The South Asian island has been in political gridlock for over a month since Sirisena replaced former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was then twice sacked by parliament but has refused to resign.

Sirisena did not accept the parliamentary votes, saying that due procedure was not followed.

It remains unclear how he plans to end the political crisis that threatens to shut down the government on Jan. 1 because a temporary budget must be approved by parliament before that.

Separately on Friday, the country’s Supreme Court rejected Rajapaksa’s bid for an injunction on a lower court’s order that barred him and his cabinet from carrying out their roles in government.

Many foreign countries have not recognised Rajapaksa’s government. Credit rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s have downgraded Sri Lanka, citing refinancing risks and an uncertain policy outlook.

Earlier this week, the island nation’s parliament passed a vote of confidence in favour of Wickremesinghe, as it sought his reinstatement as prime minister by the president to defuse the political crisis.

Sirisena has repeatedly said he will not appoint Wickremesinghe “even if he has the backing of all 225 lawmakers in parliament”.

Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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