Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Thousands march in support of Sri Lanka's new government

Sirisena has been Sri Lanka's president since 2015 Sirisena has been Sri Lanka's president since 2015
Deanna Wagner | 08 November, 2018, 10:07

Until that vote takes place, a majority of parliamentarians have said they believe the current situation, in which Rajapaksa is acting as prime minister, is illegal, the speaker said.

"The decisions of the previous government were not taken by the President, Cabinet of Ministers or the Senior Ministers, but by a swarm of butterflies headed by the former Prime Minister", President Maithripala Sirisena said.

The President said he offered the position of Prime Minister to Mahinda Rajapaksa as he was the most suitable when he found out that he was unable to work with Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on Monday slammed Sirisena's "unconstitutional and undemocratic" actions to sack Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and suspend Parliament, saying he will not recognise Rajapaksa as the new premier unless he wins a floor test.

Rajapaksa supporters have accused Wickremesinghe of selling Sri Lanka's assets, citing a 99-year lease agreement his government struck with Hong Kong conglomerate China Merchants Port Holdings Co.

Asked by The Sunday Morning if he had the full support of his own party (UNP), Wickremesinghe confirmed that he commanded its full backing.

However, Wickremesinghe said the Police had launched an investigation into the allegations and that it was being seriously looked into.

This Monday, Jayasuriya stated that in the midst of the political crisis prevailing in the island nation, he was compelled to accept the status of the earlier government till the new political alliance proves its majority in Parliament.

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President Maithripala Sirisena and my self reunited, for the betterment of the people and the country after a lapse of four years, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

Most of the remaining 21 MPs - including the TNA - are set to oppose Rajapakse, observers said.

On Friday, 118 members of the 225-seat legislature met the speaker and called for the reconvening of parliament.

Last week, Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya joined the speaker in refusing to endorse Sirisena's controversial sacking of Wickremesinghe for Rajapakse.

He said he hadn't received any money yet.

The President made the decision after his party, United People's Freedom Alliance (UFPA), pulled out of the national unity government which he formed with Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP).

Thousands of Sri Lankans are marching in support of a new government under the country's former strongman.

Pradeep Kariyawasam, the head of Mr Rajapaksa's party in Colombo, said that although Mr Wickremesinghe continues to maintain he is the country's legitimate leader, "the people are with us".