Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been sworn in as the Prime Minister before President Maithripala Sirisena, a short while ago.

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The unexpected announcement comes just minutes after the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) decided to withdraw from the unity government.

UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera, stated that the Speaker of Parliament has been notified of the decision in writing.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the main constituent party of the UPFA, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) had formed a unity government in August 2015 following the general election.

The coalition had grown increasingly strained in recent months. Both coalition partners suffered heavy defeats in local elections in February, and Sirisena loyalists backed a no-confidence motion in April against the prime minister, who survived after a majority of legislators voted to support his coalition government.

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