Sri Lanka Parliament passes no-confidence vote against Rajapaksa

Updated: Nov 15, 2018, 10:36 IST | PTI | Colombo

The majority (of the 225-member Assembly) voted to support the no-confidence motion against former strongman Rajapaksa who was made Prime Minister in October replacing Ranil Wickremesinghe, said Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in a statement

Members of the Sri Lankan parliament raise their hands at a session in Colombo. Pics/AFP
Members of the Sri Lankan parliament raise their hands at a session in Colombo. Pics/AFP

Sri Lankan Parliament on Wednesday approved a no-confidence motion against new Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his controversially appointed government, a day after the Supreme Court stayed a presidential decree dissolving the legislature. The majority (of the 225-member Assembly) voted to support the no-confidence motion against former strongman Rajapaksa who was made Prime Minister in October replacing Ranil Wickremesinghe, said Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in a statement.

The Speaker will now send a copy to President Maithripala Sirisena with a letter bearing the signatures of 122 legislators, declaring the appointment of Rajapaksa and his Cabinet as unconstitutional, according to the statement. The no-confidence motion on Rajapaksa and his government was presented by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) legislator Anura Kumara Dissanayaka and seconded by JVP legislator Vijitha Herath, Colombo Telegraph reported.

Ranil Wickremesinghe
Ranil Wickremesinghe

Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP), the JVP, the main opposition Tamil National Alliance, the Tamil Progressive Alliance, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and the All Ceylon Makkal Congress voted in favour of the no-trust motion. Sirisena-led United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) did not take part in the vote and vehemently protested the no confidence process.

The measure was approved in the first session of Parliament after the Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned its dissolution by the President. Legislators from Rajapaksa's party broke out in protest when the no-trust motion was moved, prompting him to leave the floor of the House. Amid the chaos, the Parliament was adjourned till Thursday.

Both Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa claimed they would continue to be in office. The former said the motion had been passed with a majority through a "voice vote". "Now that the motion has been passed, the government which ruled before October 26 will come back into effect. I am informing the police and state officials not to carry out any orders handed over by the illegal government," Wickremesinghe said.

UNP legislator Lakshman Kiriella said: "We have the majority and the proper parliamentary procedures were followed. The new government is no more. Ranil Wickremesinghe will once again be the Prime Minister of the nation." However, Dinesh Gunawardena, legislator from Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) headed by Rajapaksa, said the vote of no confidence had been invalid as the Parliament Speaker had not followed the normal parliamentary traditions by calling for an electronic vote.

He said the new government led by Sirisena and Rajapaksa would continue in office and all ministries would continue to function under the new regime. Sirisena dissolved the legislature last week after he replaced Wickremesinghe with Rajapaksa, who did not have sufficient parliamentary backing. On October 27, a day after replacing the Prime Minister, Sirisena ordered the suspension of the Parliament.

The move was rejected by Wickremesinghe's party, who repeatedly claimed enough support in the legislature and that his removal was unconstitutional. The Speaker then urged the President to allow the Parliament to function so that Rajapaksa could prove his majority.

Sirisena agreed and ordered the resumption of the Parliament on November 14, but later dissolved it and called for snap elections after Rajapaksa was unable to garner the necessary support. The dissolution was challenged by political parties in the Supreme Court, which overturned the President's decision on Tuesday.

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