Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena abruptly sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday and named Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place, potentially throwing the country into a constitutional crisis.
Rajapaksa was sworn in after the move, but Wickremesinghe said he still considered himself prime minister of Sri Lanka. Some government ministers said the shakeup was illegal.
"I am addressing you as the prime minister of Sri Lanka. I still hold the majority of the house," Wickremesinghe said, addressing the public. "Convene parliament and I will prove it."
Rajapaksa served as president before Sirisena, but lost out to him in the 2015 presidential election. Sirisena and Wickremesinghe joined forces during the election, with the latter promising to hold accountable those behind alleged atrocities committed during Sri Lanka's civil war, which ended in 2009 and left between 80,000 and 100,000 dead.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera called the move "an anti-democratic coup" because the prime minister cannot be sacked by the president.
Critics have accused of Rajapaksa of human rights abuses. He was president in 2009, when government forces allegedly killed Tamil civilians to end the civil war.