Asia-Pacific

Wickremesinghe returns as Sri Lanka PM

Ousted Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is tipped to return to the top job. (AAP)

Sri Lanka's Ranil Wickremesinghe has been reportedly sworn in as prime minister before President Maithripala Sirisena.

Sri Lanka's Ranil Wickremesinghe has been reportedly sworn in as prime minister before President Maithripala Sirisena, likely ending a political crisis that began in late October when he was ousted in a surprise decision.

Wickremesinghe was sworn in around 11.15am local time on Sunday, which was considered as an auspicious time for Wickremesinghe, who took over the post for the fifth time.

The South Asian island country had plunged into instability after Sirisena replaced Wickremesinghe with Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was then twice sacked by parliament.

Rajapaksa resigned on Saturday as a government shutdown loomed.

Wickremesinghe is due to nominate his cabinet later on Sunday.

Sirisena and Rajapaksa from the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) initially believed they could gain majority support in the country's 225-seat national parliament in the capital Colombo, but failed.

Rajapaksa is known principally for bringing Sri Lanka's long civil war to an end with a relentless army offensive, and has been accused of war crimes.

Sirisena had previously strongly objected to the re-appointment of Wickremesinghe.

Wickremesinghe's cabinet will be limited to 30 members in contrast to 45 members earlier under a former coalition government between the parties of Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa.

The president unexpectedly sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa in his place on October 26, but failed to secure a majority in parliament for the appointment.

He then dissolved parliament and called fresh elections, but was overruled by the Supreme Court last month.

At the beginning of this month, the Court of Appeals suspended Rajapaksa and his cabinet from office, a decision which was upheld by the Supreme Court on Friday.

Sirisena was supported by Wickremesinghe's UNP in the January 2015 presidential elections, and their parties went on to form a coalition government.

However, earlier this year, differences emerged between the two sides and the president has accused Wickremesinghe and his party of corruption, of selling state assets to foreign companies and even of planning to assassinate him.

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