A Sri Lankan court has barred former President Mahinda Rajapaksa from acting as prime minister as it hears a petition challenging his refusal to step down, despite losing two no-confidence motions last month.
Judge Preethipadhman Surasena issued the stay order on Monday, saying “irreversible damage could be caused” if Rajapaksa and ministers of his cabinet continued to hold office.
He said the Court of Appeal will sit again on December 12 to deliver a verdict in the petition filed by a majority of Sri Lanka’s legislators.
The Appeal Court began a hearing on a petition on Friday signed by 122 legislators that challenged Rajapaksa’s authority to hold office after he lost two no-confidence votes last month.
The legislators had denounced Rajapaksa’s appointment as prime minister “unconstitutional”.
“An interim order is granted against the first respondent functioning as the prime minister…also issuing interim order against 30 other respondents functioning in their offices,” judge Preethipadhman Surasena said.
Rajapaksa’s shock appointment by President Maithripala Sirisena on October 26 has plunged the Indian Ocean island nation into turmoil, as his predecessor Ranil Wickremesinghe continues to lay claim to the post.