Sri Lankan President lifts suspension of parliament
Colombo : Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Thursday lifted the suspension of parliament and convened a meeting of the legislature on Monday, November 5, amid the current political deadlock in the country over the sudden sacking of Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister, officials said. The move comes in the wake of mounting international pressure on the island nation to resolve the political crisis at the earliest.
In a dramatic turn of events, President Sirisena had on Friday, October 26, replaced Wickremesinghe with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and also dropped his entire cabinet.
Experts had termed the suspension of parliament, which was earlier until November 16, as a means to buy time to engineer crossovers from Wickremesinghe’s side to Rajapaksa in the 225-member parliament to reach the 113-majority mark.
Sirisena and parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya discussed the issue . Sirisena later indicated that he may convene the parliamentary session next week.
Sirisena swore in a new Cabinet under Rajapaksa despite a warning from the parliament speaker of possible violence if lawmakers were not summoned immediately to resolve the crisis. Wickramasinghe, who refused to accept his dismissal, argued that he cannot legally be removed until he loses the support of parliament. He also called for a floor test to prove his majority in parliament.
Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine has only 95 seats and is short of a simple majority in the 225-member house. Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) has 106 seats on its own with just seven short of the majority.
Sirisena agreed to re-convene parliament after sacked PM Wickremesinghe sought an emergency session to prove his majority. The parliament was earlier due to meet on November 5 to unveil the 2019 annual budget.
On Tuesday, angry protests shook the Colombo as thousands of demonstrators gathered for a rally organised by deposed prime minister Wickremesinghe’s party against what it said was a “coup” by President Sirisena.