Sri Lanka MPs pass no-confidence vote against disputed PM Rajapaksa

Sri Lanka's newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Maithripala Sirisena talk during a rally CREDIT: The Week

Rajapaksa’s allies refuse to recognise legitimacy of vote, deepening constitutional crisis

Michael Safi and Amantha Perera in Colombo
sourced from The Guardian

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court issued an interim order temporarily suspending the Gazette notification issued by the President Maithripala Sirisena dissolving the Parliament.

Sri Lankan lawmakers say they have passed a no-confidence motion against the country’s purported prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in effect removing the leader and his cabinet from their posts.

Rajapaksa’s allies and his son MP Namal Rajapaksa, say they refuse to recognise the legitimacy of Wednesday’s vote. There were chaotic scenes on the floor of the country’s parliament for the vote on Wednesday morning, with Rajapaksa storming out of the house and some legislators from his party trying to halt the vote.

Amid shouting the parliamentary speaker, Karu Jayasuriya, announced he would take a voice vote instead, which he then declared Rajapaksa’s government had lost. “The speaker said over the noise that he wanted us to scream to decide who’s the prime minister,” Namal Rajapaksa said.

Sri Lankan Parliament CREDIT: Arab News

Wickremesinghe said he had submitted a petition with the signatures of 122 MPs supporting the no-confidence measure in his opponent Rajapaksa. “We will now take steps to ensure that the government in place before the 26th Oct will continue,” Wickremesinghe posted on Twitter.

“I wish to inform all government servants and police that you cannot carry out illegal orders from the purported government that has failed to demonstrate the confidence of the people,” he added.

Parliament has been adjourned until 10am,Thursday.

Wednesday’s events are the latest chapter in an unprecedented period of turmoil for Sri Lankan’s democracy. Sirisena surprised the country on 26 October when he announced Wickremesinghe had been summarily dismissed as prime minister and that Rajapaksa was appointed in his place. Constitutional experts queried whether the sacking was legal and Wickremesinghe demanded parliament be allowed to decide on his leadership, but was prevented from doing so when Sirisena abruptly suspended the body.

The court’s judgment on Tuesday cleared the way for parliament to resume the following day – though the sitting has served only to exacerbate the political uncertainty.