Colombo: Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as the new Prime Minister at the Presidential Secretariat here on Friday, a government official said.

Rajapaksa took the oath in front of President Maithripala Sirisena shortly after the Sirisena-led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) withdrew from the national coalition government, reports Xinhua news agency.

Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister after UPFA’s withdrawal.

The coalition government consisted of the UPFA and the United National Party (UNP), led by Wickremesinghe.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister and UNP legislator Mangala Samaraweera called the appointment of Rajapaksa “unconstitutional,” while another cabinet Minister said UNP would challenge the move in court.

Wickremesinghe was quoted by local media as saying: “I am still the Prime Minister.”

UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera said that Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya had been informed of UPFA’a decision.