Won’t accept Rajapaksa as PM till he proves majority: Sri Lanka Speaker

Clay Curtis
November 8, 2018

People carrying placards with the pictures of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa shouted slogans denouncing the policies of the United National Party.

Last week, Wickremesinghe met several foreign journalists who had arrived in Sri Lanka to report on the crisis.

Of those, eight have defected to support Rajapaksa.

The reconvention of parliament by the president seems to suggest that Rajapaksa has the votes needed to be confirmed in the coming days.

Thousands of Sri Lankans have marched in support of a new government led by the country's former strongman, highlighting the political polarisation in the Indian Ocean island nation.

According to a gazette notification, issued by his Secretary Udaya R Seneviratne on Sunday evening, the assembly would be recalled on November 14.

Speaker of Sri Lanka's parliament has said he will not accept Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister until he proves a majority in 225-member parliament.

Thousands of Sri Lanka Freedom Party supporters together with the supporters of other constituent political parties joined the protest which was held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena.

"The majority of the members are of the view that the changes done in the parliament are unconstitutional and against the traditions", the speaker of parliament, Karu Jayasuriya, said in a statement.

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He said that farmers, government servants, fishermen, and the working mass who were gripped by the economic principles of Ranil Wickremesinghe should be freed.

But his faction has pressed ahead with forming a new government, naming an ally to a senior leadership post in parliament despite the speaker refusing to recognise the appointment.

Almost all politicians who left the UNP took up ministerial posts in the new cabinet. "I trust you and you can always trust me", Rajapaksa said.

The alliance had "decided to vote in favour of the no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa", the statement said.

During these 10 years, Rajapaksa and his government were accused of authoritarianism, corruption and human rights abuses, especially against the country's Tamil minority.

After sacking Wickremesinghe, Sirisena announced that he made the replacement in part because Wickremesinghe and a Cabinet colleague were behind an alleged assassination plot against him.

Jayasuriya said it would be "inappropriate" for him to side either way - but official sources said he took the unusual step to avoid publicly clashing with Sirisena.

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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