Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Sri Lanka’s parliament to hold confidence vote on incoming prime minister

Thousands march in support of Sri Lanka's new government Rajapakse rally gathers as Sri Lanka showdown toughens
Patty Aguilar | 08 November, 2018, 10:09

Sirisena's side charged that Jayasuriya, a UNP senior, was backing his party leader Wickremesinghe by compromising the neutral position of speaker of parliament.

Mr Sirisena suspended parliamentary proceedings until November 16 after abruptly firing Ranil Wickremesinghe and replacing him with Mahinda Rajapaksa, a controversial former president, on October 26.

This follows a warning from the European Union that it could withdraw duty-free concessions for Sri Lankan exports if it didn't stick to commitments on national reconciliation.

Thousands of supporters of Rajapaksa headed for the capital on Monday to rally in support of his nomination as the prime minister.

On Friday, 118 members of the 225-seat legislature met the speaker and called for the reconvening of parliament.

Tens of thousands of people irrespective of their political affiliations yesterday thronged the Parliament Roundabout to express their solidarity with the new government led by President Maithripala Sirisena and new Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has announced that the country's Parliament will be reconvened on November 14.

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Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has said he will not recognise the new appointments until either side is able to prove it has a majority.

The move on Oct 26 triggered an unprecedented constitutional crisis, plunging the island into political turmoil. Sirisena was a political ally to Rajapaksa and minister of health under the latter's rule.

Sirisena was supported by Wickremesinghe three years ago but the two men have gradually drifted apart, leading to Wickremesinghe's shock sacking last month.

"Foreign countries are trying to take our resources, take our land", said Mithra Kumara Jayasinghe, a wedding photographer at the rally who said he had voted for Mr Rajapaksa the two times he was elected president, in 2005 and 2010, and when he lost a re-election bid in 2015.

On Saturday, the Tamil National Alliance - an ethnic minority Tamil party - said it will support a no-confidence motion to be brought against Rajapaksa, after one lawmaker from their party joined Rajapaksa's government. "I trust you and you can always trust me", Rajapaksa said. He has been accused by diplomats of human rights abuses during the war, which he denies. The President also requested former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to let the new government proceed with its business without any hindrance.

The Prime Minister was addressing the "Rata Rakina Jana Mahimaya" public protest rally at the Parliament Junction, Battaramulla.

While Wickremesinghe is staying on in the premier's residence called Temple Trees, Rajapaksa has taken over the offices of the prime minister following his swearing in.

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