Sri Lanka's disputed prime minister announced Saturday that he would step aside, paving the way for his sacked predecessor to regain the position and apparently ending a political impasse that has paralyzed the government for nearly two months.
Mahinda Rajapaksa's resignation signals the end of a crisis that began in October when President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa as his replacement.
"Since I have no intention of remaining as prime minister without a general election being held, and in order to not hamper the president in any way, I will resign from the position of prime minister and make way for the president to form a new government," Rajapaksa said in a televised statement.
After his appointment as prime minister, Rajapaksa sought to secure a majority in the 225-member Parliament but failed. Sirisena then dissolved Parliament and called new elections, but the Supreme Court struck down the move as unconstitutional.
On Wednesday, Wickremesinghe secured the support of 117 lawmakers in a confidence vote in Parliament, forcing Sirisena to relent from his promise not to reappoint the man he had sacked.
Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet will be sworn in on Sunday.
Rajapaksa said, however, that he would continue to fight along with Sirisena's support to have an early election.
"The change of government that the people expected has now had to be put off," he said. "But the people will definitely get the change they desire. No one can prevent that."