Sunday 22 September 2019

Sri Lanka Parliament rejects president’s choice of PM

It could mean Mahinda Rajapaksa has to resign his post.

Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena, right, and his appointed prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)
Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena, right, and his appointed prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

Sri Lanka’s Parliament has passed a no-confidence vote against the government headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa, a former strongman hastily sworn in as prime minister last month.

Politicians convened on Wednesday for the first time since the president dismissed his Cabinet and suspended the legislature last month.

The motion brought by the leader of an opposition party could mean that Mr Rajapaksa will have to resign his post but does not necessarily mean the leader whose ousting set off the crisis will be reinstated.

Politicians supporting Ranil Wickremesinghe, whom President Maithripala Sirisena replaced with Mr Rajapaksa on October 26, had a visible majority in the chamber.

Many wore shawls with the words “For democracy”.

Sri Lanka’s ousted prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, centre (Lahiru Harshana/AP)

As Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya prepared to let the no-confidence motion be debated, the chamber descended into chaos, with politicians supporting Mr Rajapaksa filing into the centre of the room shouting political slogans and accusing Mr Jayasuriya of betraying the people’s mandate.

Mr Jayasuriya then said he had no choice but to bypass the debate and take an oral vote, with those in favour clearly voicing more support for the motion than those against it.

Before the results were announced, Mr Rajapaksa walked out of the chamber.

After it became clear last week that Mr Rajapaksa would not survive a no-confidence motion, Mr Sirisena dissolved Parliament, but the Supreme Court on Tuesday had ordered the legislature to keep working until next month.

Namal Rajapaksa, a politician in his father’s United People Freedom Alliance party, told The Associated Press that they “don’t accept this verdict” and will continue as the government.

Lawmaker Ajith Perera, a Wickremesinghe supporter, said the results of the vote meant Mr Wickremesinghe and his government would be reinstated.

It was unclear if that would be the case.

Parliament adjourned after the vote and is to reconvene on Thursday morning.

PA Media

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