Sri Lankan Speaker Jayasuriya presses for floor test to resolve political crisis
Colombo: Sri Lankan Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said on Wednesday he wanted a floor test in parliament to resolve the issue of two prime ministers in the country which arose following the sacking of Ranil Wickremesinghe and replacing him with Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The Speaker’s remarks came two days after he slammed President Maithripala Sirisena, saying it was “anti-democratic” to sack Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and suspend the Parliament, and asserted that he will not recognise Rajapaksa as the premier unless it is proved by a floor test.
Jayasuriya said he had met party representatives to finalise the agenda for November 14 when the current suspension of parliament by President Sirisena would end. He said the government argued that parliament should not vote for a floor test on the day and should limit its sessions to day’s business.
“After giving a fair hearing to both sides, the speaker expressed his stand. The need for the determination of majority, as requested by 116 members previously in writing to suspend standing orders of parliament, after the conclusion of the day’s business to allow each side to display their majorities in order to have a stable government,” a statement from Jayasuriya’s office said.
When contacted a Sirisena source denied that they had agreed with Jayasuriya for a floor test.
Jayasuriya, earlier in the week, said when parliament was to be reconvened he would have to consider the pre-26 October status quo with regard to the two prime ministers.
Jayasuriya’s stance has caused ire among the Sirisena and Rajapaksa factions. He accuses the Speaker of being biased towards his party, the United National Party (UNP) led by the ousted prime minister Wickremesinghe.
Sirisena suspended parliament immediately after his October 26 sacking of Wickremesinghe, a move that was being seen as to allow Rajapaksa to muster the 113 seats required for majority. Rajapaksa has so far won 9 defections, still short of 113 to prove his majority in the 225-member House.
Wickremesinghe continues to claim he is the lawful prime minister citing the 19th amendment to the Constitution under which the president’s powers to sack the Prime Minister had been stripped.
The unity government was formed in 2015 when Sirisena was elected President with Wickremesinghe’s support, ending a nearly decade-long rule by Rajapaksa.