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Rajapaksa resigns as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister amid political crisis

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Colombo: Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was appointed as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister by President Maithripala Sirisena in a controversial move, resigned on Saturday as two crucial Supreme Court decisions made the embattled former strongman’s efforts to cling to premiership untenable.

Rajapaksa informed the lawmakers of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) that he has resigned from the post, MP Shehan Semasinghe told reporters.

His son, Namal Rajapaksa, had yesterday said he will quit “to ensure stability of the nation”, after the Supreme Court ordered that he should not exercise the powers of the office he has claimed since October 26.

 

The apex court’s latest ruling came a day after it unanimously declared that the dissolution of Parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena was “illegal”, in a body blow to the embattled leader, whose controversial decisions plunged the island nation into an unprecedented political turmoil.

Namal Rajapakse said they will join a coalition with President Maithripala Sirisena who triggered the political crisis on October 26 by sacking Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replacing him with former foe Rajapakse.

The latest decision of Rajapakse to back down came as the Supreme Court ruled that he and his purported cabinet should not exercise the powers of the office they claim until he could prove his legitimacy.

The court ruling also meant that the country was effectively without a government and heading for a shut down in the absence of parliament voting for a budget for 2019.

In another blow to Sirisena, the highest court ruled on Thursday that his sacking of parliament on November 9 was illegal and cancelled a snap election he had called for January 5.

Rajapakse failed to prove his majority in parliament and was twice defeated in no-confidence motions on November 14 and 16, but refused to step down.

Wickremesinghe also refused to step down since October 26 maintaining that his sacking was illegal. That issue is currently being canvassed before courts.

Political sources said Sirisena was likely to invite Wickremesinghe to form a new government over the weekend and end the power vacuum.

Rajapaksa was appointed as the prime minister on October 26 by President Sirisena in a controversial move after sacking Ranil Wickremesinghe, which plunged the country into an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

Pro-Rajapaksa lawmaker, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, had told reporters that Rajapaksa decided in a meeting on Friday with President Sirisena to resign to allow the President to appoint a new government.

Wickremesinghe is expected to take oath as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister on Sunday.

President Maithripala Sirisena has reportedly agreed to reinstate ousted Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in the post after a discussion with him over the phone on Friday.


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Pakistan among the few countries to successfully turn tide against terrorism: Imran

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Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the country condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including state-terrorism against people under illegal occupation. The PM stated that Pakistan is “among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism”.

Addressing the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit at Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Khan reiterated that Pakistan is ready to share its experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. He added that growing intolerance and Islamophobia are threatening to accentuate religious fault-lines. He further said that Pakistan will remain actively engaged in SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives.

Speaking on Afghanistan, PM Khan said that “the conflict in Afghanistan has no military solution”, adding that Pakistan is fully supporting efforts for “peace and reconciliation, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process”.

 

“Excellencies, The world stands at a crossroads. For the first time in ages, we are seeing the advent of a multi-polar global order. Epicentres of economic power and growth momentum are shifting eastwards. Regional integration is speeding up. Disruptive technologies are maturing. Threats from terrorism to climate change to narcotics to bacterial resistance continue to loom large,” said PM Khan.

“There are increasing barriers to open trade and innovation. Meanwhile, growing intolerance and Islamophobia are threatening to accentuate religious fault-lines. For its part, Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including State-terrorism against people under illegal occupation. We are among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism,” added the Pakistan PM.

“Pakistan remains ready to share its experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. We will also remain actively engaged in SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives. Excellencies, There is finally a realization that the conflict in Afghanistan has no military solution. Pakistan is fully supporting efforts for peace and reconciliation, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process,” further said Pakistan PM Khan.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reiterated India’s strong stand against terrorism and appealed that countries supporting, aiding and funding terrorism must be held accountable. PM Modi highlighted the spirit and ideals of SCO to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism even as Khan looked on.

Without naming Pakistan, a country that has made state-sponsored terrorism its biggest policy to counter India for the last several decades, PM Modi said every country needs to come together, unite and fight against the scourge.

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Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state

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Moscow: Vladimir Putin has said Russia will fight for an independent Palestinian state, and called for the issues of the Middle East to be resolved through peaceful means.

Despite international criticism over Russia’s own role in the Ukrainian crisis, Mr Putin was hailed last week by a St Petersburg Cossack group for his ability to “bring order and stop wars”.

In an address to the Arab League summit in Egypt on Saturday, Putin spoke against foreign intervention in countries’ internal disputes and spoke of the role Russia can play in diplomatic channels.

 

While Russia openly opposes the stance of US-backed Israel on the Gaza crisis, its position in the Middle East is complicated. Putin is one of Iran’s key allies, but as he spoke on Saturday the core nations of the Arab League engaged in air strikes on the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

His attempts to urge a peaceful solution in Yemen haven’t had much of an immediate impact – on Sunday, the Arab League agreed to the creation of a joint military forces comprised of around 40,000 elite troops to resolve the future “challenges” of the Middle East.

As one of the “Quartet” entities involved in Middle East peace negotiations, Russia has played a key role in talks about the fallout of last year’s Gaza crisis.

He told the summit this weekend: “Palestinians have the right to establish an independent and habitable state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

“Russia will continue to contribute to achieving this goal through bilateral and multilateral channels,” he said.

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Trump claims Queen had fun with him during his UK visit

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Washington: US President Donald Trump claimed that Britains Queen Elizabeth II had more fun during his state visit to the UK than in the last 25 years."I have such a great relationship, and we were laughing and having fun. And her people said she hasnt had so much fun in 25 years. Then I got criticized for it because they said we were having too much fun,” the Hill quoted Trump as saying.

Trump`s comments come two weeks after his first state visit to London to meet the 93-year-old monarch. During his three-day visit, the president dined with the Queen, members of the British royal family and other British politicians at Buckingham Palace.

Trump and the queen reaffirmed the importance of the Washington-London relationship during an elaborate state banquet.”On behalf of all Americans I offer a toast to the eternal friendship of our people, the vitality of our nations and to the long cherished and truly remarkable reign of her majesty, the queen,” Trump said in his toast during the event.

 

He also met Prime Minister Theresa May. Opposing Trumps visit, thousands of people hit the streets. TheTrump Baby` blimp was flown by the demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament, according to CNN, alongside a 16-foot robot version of Trump sitting on the toilet and tweeting.

Other activists came dressed as gorillas, with signs reading that they “only eat chlorinated chicken” — a nod to concerns in Britain that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US would mean a decline in food standards for imported produce.

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