Sri Lankan court puts prime minister's position on hold

In this Nov. 3, 2018 file photo, Sri Lanka's then appointed prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa speaks to members loyal to him at his office in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A Sri Lankan court on Monday stayed disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his ministers from holding their positions as it hears an appeal against them.

The Court of Appeal also decided to call the case for hearing again Dec. 12.

While Monday's ruling was an interim order, it is yet another setback for Rajapaksa, who held on to the position despite losing no-confidence votes with President Maithripala Sirisena's backing on Thursday.

The parliamentary speaker announced that Rajapaksa's government was dissolved after the passage of the no-confidence motions.

Sri Lanka has been in political turmoil since Oct. 26, when Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa in his place.

But Rajapaksa has failed to show a working majority in Parliament and lost two no-confidence votes.

Some 122 lawmakers who are opposed to Rajapaksa in the 225-member Parliament have challenged Rajapaksa and his ministers' right to hold office.

But Rajapaksa continues to function as prime minister with the backing of Sirisena, who has dismissed the no-confidence votes, saying proper procedures were not followed.