Sri Lanka’s newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena Wednesday reinstated a chief justice who was removed by the former president, officials said.
Shirani Bandaranayake, the country’s first woman chief justice, was removed by an impeachment motion introduced in parliament by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa in January 2013 accusing her of corruption. Her lawyers argued that her removal was illegal.
Bandaranayake was replaced by Mohan Peiris, one-time legal advisor to Rajapaksa.
Sirisena Wednesday informed Peiris that since his appointment was illegal Bandaranayke was advised to resume her duties, an official at the president’s office said.
Lawyers on Wednesday protested to demand the resignation of Peiris, who has been accused of trying to help the former president remain in office despite his election defeat this month.
Lawyers outside the Supreme Court complex held placards and chanted slogans against Peiris, calling on him to quit.
Peiris was questioned by the Criminal Investigations Department Friday over allegations that he tried to help Rajapaksa remain in office despite the opposition candidate Sirisena defeating him in the January 8 election.
The investigation followed a complaint by the foreign affairs minister that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa – alongside his brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former defence secretary – had sought the help of the chief justice and other officials to prevent the election results from being declared.
Mahinda Rajapaksa denied the allegation in a statement issued Tuesday and said he had no intention of remaining in power.