Lankan leader to convene parliament next week

Lankan leader to convene parliament next week

Lankan leader to convene parliament next week

Sri Lankan prime-minister Mahinda Rajapaksa gestures as he addresses the staff after assuming duties as finance minister in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Oct. 31.

A political crisis erupted in Sri Lanka last Friday when President Sirisena, in a shocking move, dissolved cabinet and sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed former President Rajapakse as the new prime minister.

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday spoke with UN Secretary General António Guterres and apprised him of the political situation in the country.

Wickremesinghe has refused to accept the dismissal and remained bunkered at the prime minister's official residence for the past week amid almost daily twists in the saga. Details of the alleged plot have not been disclosed and Wickremesinghe has repeatedly denied the accusation. Mr Sirisena was accused of betraying Mr Rajapaksa because even though they belonged to the same political party, he teamed up with Ranil Wickremesinghe to defeat him. Wickremesinghe's United National Party said they have handed over a motion of no-confidence against Rajapaksa.

Devi said she wanted to show solidarity after Wickremesinghe's government built 5,000 homes for people like her who were displaced by the civil war that ended in 2009.

After winning the war, Rajapaksa rode on his popularity to change the constitution by scrapping a two-term limit for the presidency, enabling him to stay in power for life. He also took over the powers of appointing election and bribery commission officials as well as judges.

Rajapaksa's government also came under fire for taking billions of dollars in loans from China to build a scantly used port.

The move was not entirely surprising as Sirisena and Wickremesinghe have never been natural allies.

A lawmaker from the main Tamil party defected to the Rajapaksa side and was made a minister on Friday.

Lawmakers from Rajapaksa's party have denied the allegations.

Attempts to win over MP defectors intensified in Sri Lanka's constitutional crisis Saturday amid growing pressure to let the suspended parliament hold a vote on the two rivals who each claim to be prime minister. When neither major party received a clear majority in parliamentary elections, Sirisena's party signed an agreement with Ranil Wickremesinghe's party to form a unity government. Moreover, Wickremesinghe's popularity began to wane after his government signed an agreement giving a Chinese company an 80% stake and a 99-year lease of a failing port, seeing it as a way to avoid defaulting on Chinese loans.

He argues that he can not legally be removed until he loses the support of Parliament and called for a floor test to prove his majority.

Rajapaksa camp had already enticed a TNA legislator to join ranks by giving him a deputy ministerial position.

The most famous (or notorious) symbol of the burgeoning Sri Lanka-China cooperation is the port of Hambantota at the island's south, viewed as an important cog in the wheel of Beijing's One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, or a part of "String of Pearls" that Beijing seeks to create around its neighbour India in fight for regional, and ultimately, global dominance.

Rights groups as well as Western nations have urged Sirisena to summon parliament to end the crisis.

"The speaker met a majority of MPs at a committee room today and promised he will open parliament on November 7", Jayasuriya's spokesman told AFP. Wickremesinghe too had demanded the convening of Parliament, saying he still enjoys majority.

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